Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction is a challenge facing millions of Americans, lurking in classrooms, offices, and living rooms from coast to coast. With the ability to destroy relationships, sideline careers, and interfere with home lives, addiction is deeply serious.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, approximately 7.1 million individuals aged 12 or older meet the criteria for a drug use disorder, while 6.4 million have an alcohol use disorder. Further, roughly 8.2 million teens and adults have used illicit drugs in the last month, while 56% of those 18 and older have had alcohol in the previous month.

Substance abuse can pose significant threats to wellness, happiness, stability, and health. The more you know about drug and alcohol addiction, the better positioned you are to both identify and properly cope with signs of addiction in those you love – or in yourself.

Alcohol Addiction

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Cocaine Addiction

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Heroin Addiction

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Fentanyl Addiction

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Methamphetamine Addiction

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Hallucinogen Addiction

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Benzodiazepine Addiction

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Codeine Addiction

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What is a Drug?

Broadly speaking, a drug is any substance other than food that has a physiological or psychological effect when ingested, injected, or otherwise consumed. Drugs can be medicinal, therapeutic, curative, or intoxicating, depending on the composition, function, or purpose. Many drugs, like prescription pharmaceuticals, are used to treat, prevent, or cure a medical condition, while others, like illegal substances, are consumed purely for pleasure.

Drugs in the United States are highly controlled and regulated, generally by the Food and Drug Administration. Pharmaceuticals and recreational drugs alike are divided into classes that organize substances by function and purpose as well as Schedules that govern prescription and distribution under law.

When used to excess or against a doctor’s orders, many drugs, including controlled pharmaceuticals, naturally-derived substances like marijuana, and street drugs, can be habit-forming, leading to both mental and physical dependence. In some cases, addiction can be habit or lifestyle-derived, while in others, physical changes begin to occur in the brain within the first few doses.

What is Addiction?

The state of addiction refers to a dependency on any kind of substance, item, action, or activity. Addiction can be physical, mental, or behavioral, and can manifest in different ways from one person to another. There are no specific criteria as to what can be addictive; virtually anything can result in addiction under the right circumstances. This includes drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, sex, video games, and even food.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” Addiction can be characterized by numerous physical and psychological signs, which often include:

  • An inability to abstain from use for a prolonged period of time;
  • Impaired behavioral controls; addicted individuals will violate social norms in order to seek out the subject of addiction;
  • Diminished recognition of problematic actions, especially in interpersonal situations; and
  • Inappropriate or dysfunctional behavior.

While addiction exists in many forms, drug and alcohol addiction are among the most common. Due to the multifaceted nature of these illicit substances, addiction tends to have both physical and psychological components, creating a web from which can be exceptionally difficult to escape.



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Defining Substance and Alcohol Use Disorders

Casual or recreational substance use plays a significant role in modern culture. Media like movies, music, and television shows often glorify getting drunk or high, with rappers detailing drugged up exploits and cool teens in TV shows sneaking off to drink alcohol with their friends. Whether legal or illegal, healthy or unhealthy, substance use is seen as something common that everyone does.

These pervasive messages – as well as the reality of usage statistics among teens and adults alike – communicate an acceptance of substance use on almost every level. However, recreational use doesn’t usually stay recreational for long, and some substances are nearly impossible to use on an occasional basis.

Substance use disorders, or SUDs, occur when recreational use steps over the line into habitual use. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, substance use disorders are characterized by evidence of a loss of control, risky use, and social impairment. SUDs exist on a sliding scale ranging from mild to severe based on the number of diagnostic criteria substance users meet. These criteria vary from one substance to another based on usage trends and common side effects. Alcohol use disorder, for example, is graded on the following elements:

  • Problems controlling alcohol intake
  • Continued drinking even after issues occur, like being too drunk or hungover to go to work
  • Development of a tolerance that leads to increased intake
  • Risky situations caused by drinking
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not drinking
  • Prolonged time acquiring alcohol

While only one of these factors may be considered a mild form of alcohol use disorder, most or all of them can indicate a severe case.


Addiction as a Disease

Despite the prevalence of addiction, its severity is often diminished in popular culture. Unfortunately, many people view addiction as a weakness–a poor character trait deserving judgement and ridicule and not a serious condition in need of professional treatment. However, this is not true. Medical and psychological experts classify addiction as a disease – and rightly so.

According to the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a disease that is comprised of behavioural choices, environmental factors, and genetic components. Addiction affects both the body and the brain, sometimes permanently, leading to an altered state of being that is nearly impossible to overcome without help – much like other diseases. Furthermore, addiction cannot be cured, only treated. While some substance users are able to quit using drugs and alcohol without ever relapsing, many are not, which is characteristic of other diseases.

The element of choice in addiction often drives criticism over classifying addiction as a disease. After all, without picking up the first joint, taking the first sip, or injecting the first dose, an addiction can’t develop. However, this logic would exclude many legitimate conditions as well. For example, diabetes can be strongly related to a poor diet and obesity, while skin cancer can be derived from too much time in the sun and lung cancer from smoking in spite of known risks. No one debates these kinds of conditions as legitimate diseases, despite the choices often involved in diagnosis, so by this logic, addiction should be seen in the same light: as a chronic condition without a cure.

The societal view of addiction as a weakness or a personal problem is often directly tied to a reluctance admit to an addiction, or to seek help. Unfortunately, only around 10% of those with a substance abuse problem ever seek treatment – a figure much lower than that of other chronic diseases.

When a Habit Becomes an Addiction

The line between habit and addiction can be blurry, especially for abusers unable to clearly see the differentiation. The National Institute of Health describes the process from first use to addiction in four basic steps: experimental use, regular use, problem or risky use, and addiction.

  • Experimental Use :As the name implies, the experimental stage involves initial experimentation with substances. This could happen perhaps at a party with friends, or even as a form of parental defiance, or as a way to blow off steam. Experimentation does not necessarily mean continued use; some users do not enjoy the sensation that accompanies drug or alcohol use. Others may use only occasionally when in the company of friends and family.
  • Regular Use:When a user moves on to regular use, they begin to neglect obligations like work or school, think about substance use often, use substances to fix problems, or pull away from friends and family due to perceived misunderstandings about use.
  • Problem or Risky Use:At the risky use stage, all interest in activities other than use starts to wane. Users often lose interest in school or work, neglect relationships, increase use, or even begin using harder substances. Legal problems may develop at this stage.
  • Addiction:In active addiction, nothing matters but drugs. School and work are often neglected entirely, all of the day’s events are centered around finding and using drugs, and personal relationships all but disappear.

The Dangers of Addiction

Using drugs recreationally may seem like fun and games, but full-fledged addiction is anything but. Addiction can be extremely dangerous, putting users at mental, physical, and emotional risk. Unfortunately, as use worsens, some of the threats to well-being may be irreversible, creating lifelong challenges.

Physical Health

The effects of drug abuse on physical health are often the best known and the most noticeable. While different drugs behave in different ways, ongoing drug abuse in one form or another can lead to conditions like:

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Heart failure
  • Contraction of bloodborne illness, like HIV
  • Infertility or impotence
  • Long-term memory and learning problems
  • Lung damage
  • Psychosis
  • Respiratory distress or coma
  • Death

Mental Health

In addition to manifestations associated with particular substances, the National Institute of Health reports that ongoing drug abuse can increase the likelihood of:

  • Underlying mental disorders, like schizophrenia
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Susceptibility to high levels of stress that can interfere with future financial, personal, and relationship success
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder from events that occurred during drug use

In addition, drug use can negatively affect interpersonal relationships, destroying support systems and leaving users with nowhere to turn. The impact of use on a career can also damage self-worth as users lose desired jobs and negatively impact reputation in an industry.

Treating Drug Addiction

Despite the dangers associated with a chronic disease like addiction, there is hope on the horizon. Treatment for addiction aims to help users break free from the physical and mental bonds of addiction while fostering healthy coping mechanisms, life skills, and the emotional strength necessary to live a sober life. Often guided by doctors, nurses, counselors, and other addiction medicine professionals, a successful treatment program can help users to achieve abstinence and reduce the chances of relapse.

Effective treatment often targets all aspects of the self, including mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Programs also strive to support and promote the four dimensions of recovery as noted by SAMHSA: health, home, purpose, and community.

The Stages of Treatment

Treatment for addiction isn’t as easy as taking a pill and waiting for the effects to kick in. Overcoming addiction requires time, energy, and commitment that has to come from within.

Most treatment programs favor a step-down process, starting with a strict and restrictive environment and gradually phasing down to help those in recovery to assimilate back into daily life.

1). Detox: Detox is the first stage of treatment, lasting around three to seven days based on substance. In detox, users go through drug withdrawal in order to move past the physical components of addiction. For those with long-term or severe substance abuse, medications and other therapies may be used to minimize side effects.

2). Inpatient: For three to four weeks following detox, patients reside in an inpatient care facility with limited access to the outside world. During this time, patients work with counselors and other addiction professionals in individual and group settings to facilitate healing, productive coping mechanisms, and a healthy attitude toward sobriety.

3). Partial Hospitalization: Also known as PHP, partial hospitalization programs are outpatient programs that provide a balance between inpatient and outpatient care. In this time, recovering users live in a sober living house while attending addiction programing during the day, five days a week. Freedoms during this time are limited.

4). Intensive Outpatient: After several weeks or months of PHP, users graduate to intensive outpatient programs, or IOP. Taking place in the evenings three to five days a week for several hours, these programs give patients a chance to return to work or school while remaining committed to the recovery community. Participants often live in a sober house during IOP.

5). Outpatient: After IOP is complete, many recovering users return to their homes and families, and attempt to re-enter normal life. However, remaining active in the recovery community is encouraged, and many individuals continue attending outpatient addiction treatment programs in order to best maintain sobriety.

working definition of recovery

How We Can Help

For those suffering from addiction, Level Up Treatment Lake Worth is here. As a licensed and accredited rehabilitation center, we are dedicated to helping you meet your goals, one day at a time.

In an effort to help you find and maintain sobriety, we favor a personalized approach to care. From the moment you begin with us, our counselors will help you find a path that fits with your background, your substance(s) of choice, your lifestyle, your interests, and your unique needs.

To best customize our services to your needs, our programming includes:

1. Family Therapy
2. Individual Therapy
3. Humanistic Therapy
4. Group Addiction Therapy
5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
6. Mindfulness Training for Stress Reduction

If you are considering addiction treatment for you or someone you love, Level Up Treatment Lake Worth can help. Please contact us today for a confidential consultation with a member of our intake team.

Hotline (855) 459-2880