Substance Use and Addiction 


Addiction occurs when we lose the ability to control how much or how often we consume something. There are many things people can become addicted to such as: alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, medications, and more. While we may initially seek these items because they help gratify us in some way, overconsumption of these items can go from feeling good to feeling terrible very quickly. When it comes to things like drugs, we definitely want to consume in moderation. If you find that it’s difficult for you to slow down or stop, then maybe it’s time to consider abstinence.

Why Do People Get Addicted?

Whatever your reason is for consuming drugs, alcohol, or other addictive items, it’s important to remember that there is a fine line between enjoyment and numbing. Enjoyment is engaging in an action that brings us pleasure, while numbing is engaging in an action to get away from unpleasant feelings. Much of the time, people consume substances because it helps them distract or decrease feelings of pain, stress, anxiety, sadness, or anger. Drugs can make us feel happier, more productive, more social, and confident—so it’s understandable why we turn to them when things become difficult. The problem is that the effect of any addiction is extremely short-lived and our bodies are made to crave more and more of what makes us feel good.

The Problem With Addiction

Once we start craving more and more of a substance, our minds become locked in a cycle. The cycle begins with negative feelings, leading us to numb using substances, leading us to feel temporary pleasure, which quickly leads to cravings or withdrawal, ultimately leading back to using the substance again. The negative effect of being locked in this cycle of addiction is that it takes a negative toll on our health, mental capabilities, relationships, and ability to function. Addiction is a serious matter with serious consequences because of the health risks and potential for death, especially when using alcohol and opiates.

So What Can Be Done About it?

One of the most important things to consider when treating a drug or alcohol addiction is safety. Our bodies can become so dependent on substances that stopping abruptly can lead to physical sickness, otherwise known as withdrawal. There are many medical detox facilities that provide 24 hour care to help individuals withdraw in a safe and comfortable environment, many of which are government funded. There are rehabilitation facilities that provide inpatient and outpatient care, where counselling, group therapy, effective coping, and medication management is provided. Engaging in therapy with a professional who will sit and listen to you, uncover why the addiction may have started, and provide strategies to help recover can be helpful. Peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous, and more are available online and in-person for free.

Just know that recovery is possible, many people have been able to turn their lives around once they received the right kind of help. It takes a nonjudgmental, kind, and understanding approach to help those who are suffering to find the strength to quit.

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