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Recovery From Drug & Substance Abuse

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Table of Contents

How to recover from drug addiction

Drug addiction is a disease that affects the brain in damaging ways. Those who struggle with drug addiction often find it difficult to stop using drugs, even when they want to. This is an extremely challenging condition to deal with as a person who has struggled with drug addiction and wants to recover. But with treatment, support from friends and family, and dedication — not just to rehab but also to your future — you can get through this difficult time. Preventing drug use is the best way to avoid developing a drug addiction in the first place. However, if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction right now, there are ways to recover from it again. Sober livings can help those who struggle with drug addiction learn new skills, break their destructive habits and rebuild their lives.

Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

Recognizing drug addiction as a disease is the first step to recovery. Drug addiction, like many chronic diseases, can be treated but not cured. Once someone realizes they have a problem, the next step is seeking help. Identifying the signs of drug addiction and understanding the consequences of continued use are important first steps in getting help for someone who needs it.

If you think you or someone you love may have a problem with drugs, there are some telltale signs of drug addiction that can indicate a serious problem. Many people wonder what drug addiction is. It’s not so much about which drugs but rather your usage and how it’s affecting your life. People who struggle with drug use generally spend more time thinking about getting high, buying drugs, using them, and planning their next drug-fueled escapade.

What Are The Signs of Drug Addiction?

While signs of drug addiction are different for each person, there are certain traits common to many people who struggle with drug use. If you or someone you know has several of these signs, it’s important to seek help.

  • Weight change. People who are addicted to drugs often lose weight rapidly. This is because they are spending less time engaged in healthy activities and more time thinking about drugs and finding drugs.
  • Mood changes. People who struggle with drug use will often experience mood swings and sudden, drastic mood changes. Mood changes are a hallmark of drug use, as drugs can alter the chemical makeup of the brain and change moods.
  • Social withdrawal. One of the most important signs of drug addiction is social withdrawal. Drug users are more likely to spend time with other drug users, isolating themselves from healthy activities like family gatherings and trips to the park.
  • Isolation. This is closely associated with social withdrawal. Drug users often prefer to spend time alone or with other drug users rather than engaging in healthy, sober activities.
  • Sudden changes in spending. Sudden or frequent changes in spending are a sign that drug use is likely.
  • Physical signs. Some physical signs of drug abuse include things like needle marks, burns or scabs on arms, legs, or fingers.

How Does Drug Addiction Develop?

When someone uses a drug frequently, they are more likely to become addicted to it. The more often someone uses a drug, the greater the chance of addiction. Drug addiction is a chronic illness characterized by drug seeking and use which is disproportionate to health consequences.

  • Frequency and intensity of use. Drug use can be anything from smoking a joint once a week to shooting up heroin several times per day. The more often someone uses drugs, the more likely they are to develop an addiction.
  • Biological factors. Each person’s biology, genetics, and mental health are factors that make certain people more likely to become addicted to certain drugs.
  • Psychological factors. Psychological factors play a role in drug addiction. People who struggle with low self-esteem, mental illness, or trauma are more likely to develop an addiction to drugs.

Consequences of Drug Addiction

Drug addiction can lead to many different consequences, some of which are serious and even life-threatening. Drug addiction can lead to job loss, financial stress, and even arrest. Drug users who inject drugs risk transmitting diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C. Drug addiction can also negatively affect relationships with friends and family members. If a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, it’s likely that others are affected by the situation, too.

  • Physical health issues. Drug addiction can lead to an array of physical health issues including cardiovascular diseases, liver damage, immune system impairment, infections, and kidney damage.
  • Relationship issues. Drug addiction can negatively affect relationships with family members, friends, and even romantic partners.
  • Financial issues. Drug addiction can lead to financial issues including a loss of employment and mounting debt.
  • Legal issues. Drug addiction can lead to legal issues. This can include things like court dates, a criminal record, and even jail time.

Factors That Make Drug Addiction More Likely

  • Biological factors. Certain biological factors make certain people more likely to become addicted to drugs. People who struggle with mental illnesses or have a family history of mental illness or addiction are more likely to develop an addiction.
  • Psychological factors. Psychological factors also make certain people more likely to become addicted to drugs. People with low self-esteem, a lack of positive relationships in their lives, a history of trauma, or mental illness are more likely to develop an addiction.
  • Availability of drugs. The availability of drugs in an area also plays a role in drug addiction. People are more likely to become addicted to drugs that are accessible and cheap. – Social pressures. People may also use drugs as a way to fit in socially.

What Are the Most Addictive Drugs?

Drugs can be addictive for many different reasons. Some are biologically addictive, meaning that they are likely to cause a person to become physically addicted. Other drugs are psychologically addictive, meaning that people are likely to become addicted because they enjoy the feeling of being high.

  • Heroin. Heroin can cause a person to develop a physical dependence rather quickly, making it one of the most addictive drugs. It is also very easy to overdose on heroin, which can result in death.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol is a psychologically addictive drug that is also socially acceptable, making it easier for people to become addicted to it.
  • Cocaine. Cocaine is another psychologically addictive drug. Though it has a shorter high than heroin, it has a high potential for addiction.
  • Marijuana. Though not as addictive as other drugs, marijuana is thought to be psychologically addictive.
  • Other drugs. Other addictive drugs include prescription painkillers, amphetamines, and meth.

Can Drug Addiction Be Cured?

There is no cure for drug addiction, but it is a treatable condition. Many people who struggle with drug addiction first use drugs as a way to deal with uncomfortable emotions like stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. The process of recovering from a drug addiction usually involves a combination of different approaches.

  • Seeking help. The first step in treating drug addiction is seeking help. This can include things like visiting a doctor or therapist, joining a support group or attending therapy sessions.
  • Getting support. Once you see a doctor about your drug use, you’ll want to surround yourself with supportive people who can help you break your drug habit.
  • Finding other hobbies. Once you’ve broken the habit of drug use, finding other hobbies that don’t involve drugs is important. You can also consider joining a support group or seeing a therapist to help you cope with the emotions that drove you to drugs in the first place.

What to Expect During Drug Addiction Recovery

When you are in drug addiction recovery, you will experience many different symptoms — both physical and emotional. When you’re actively using drugs, your brain is altered in ways that cause you to feel things differently than when you are sober. These alterations, as well as the effects of the drugs, will slowly subside as you progress through drug treatment.

During drug addiction recovery, you may experience some of these symptoms. You may also have many different mood swings throughout the day, which is another symptom of drug addiction recovery. This is because when you are sober you will naturally feel emotions much more intensely than when you were on drugs. That’s why you need to rely on your support system and a professional drug addiction rehabilitation program to help you navigate these difficult times and come out stronger on the other side.

Reflect on why you abused drugs

When you are in rehab, you will probably work with your doctors, counselors, and peers to find the root cause of your drug addiction. In order to fully recover, it’s important to know why you began using drugs in the first place. Drugs can be a coping mechanism because of unresolved issues in your life, like anger, disappointment, or trauma. The best way to prevent drug addiction is to deal with these issues as they arise.

If you notice you are using drugs to deal with life, find healthy ways to cope. It can also be helpful to ask yourself why you continued using drugs even though you knew they were bad for you. Drugs change your brain chemistry, which results in you feeling different emotions and having different reactions to the world around you. Eventually, you may reach a point where you realize you are no longer yourself — your life has been taken over by drug cravings and drug abuse. You need to ask yourself why you continued to abuse drugs even though you knew they were controlling your life.

Understand your triggers

During drug addiction recovery, you need to be on the lookout for what are called triggers. A trigger is something in your environment that causes you to have an intense craving for drugs. Triggers can be anything that reminds you of the way drugs make you feel. That could be a certain place, a person, or certain music.

You will notice that triggers often have to do with an event in your life that you were dealing with while you were abusing drugs. For instance, if you were using while you were in a relationship with an abusive partner, you may have developed a trigger around hearing that person’s voice.

It can be helpful to pay attention to how you feel when you are around certain people, places, or things, and to actively avoid what you know will trigger a craving. If you notice a certain event triggering a craving, you can also try to discuss it with a close friend or family member.

Staying sober during drug rehab

Part of drug addiction recovery is staying sober, even when others around you are still using drugs. This is a very difficult time for many people who are trying to recover from addiction. It is often referred to as “hitting a wall” or “slipping” when addicts who are living in a drug rehab facility choose to use drugs again. Hitting a wall is not a sign of failure or something to be ashamed of; it is a sign that you need more support and to make changes to your drug rehab program.

During drug rehab, you will likely live in a facility and have a daily schedule of activities. You will also have people around you who are trying to recover from addiction, like your peers. It’s important to remind yourself that it’s a process, and you can’t expect full recovery to take place immediately. But, it is also important to continue to work hard during this time.

For people in outpatient rehabs, it can be helpful to move into a sober living home. While sober livings are not medical treatment centers, they can nonetheless help people recover from substance abuse habits by giving them a safe and trigger-free environment. Clients will learn relapse prevention techniques and build a solid support system that can make it far easier to stay sober in the long run.

Develop a recovery community

A recovery community is a group of people who live sober lifestyles and support each other through the challenges of addiction recovery. This could be online support groups, one-on-one therapy sessions, or even a 12-step meeting.

Recovery communities can be helpful for many reasons: They give you a safe space to talk about your feelings, provide you with accountability and support from others who are in the same situation as you, and give you something to look forward to each day. It’s important to find a recovery community that feels comfortable for you. You can find many different types of recovery communities, including those based on religion, 12-step programs, or online support groups. This is a good way to branch out from the people in your drug rehab facility and make new connections with people who understand what you are going through.

Rebuilding your life during drug rehab

In addition to staying sober and dealing with any trauma you might have experienced, you also need to focus on building a new life during drug rehab. You will want to start practicing new skills and habits to help you avoid falling back into your old ways. During drug rehab, you can work on things like self-care, setting new goals, and reaching out to people who care about you. Self-care takes many different forms, and it’s important for people in recovery to remember to take care of themselves in order to combat withdrawal symptoms and maintain sobriety.

Setting new goals will help you stay motivated to live a better life. And, reaching out to others is a great way to get support during drug rehab. It can be a very challenging process to recover from drug addiction. But with treatment, support from others, and dedication to sobriety, anyone can beat their addiction and build a better life.

Types of Drug Addiction Treatment

Drug addiction is an extremely challenging condition to treat. It’s a chronic disease, which means that it’s ongoing and doesn’t have a cure. Instead, drug addiction treatment programs can help you manage your addiction so that you can return to a healthy, sober lifestyle. There are many options for treating drug addiction, including inpatient and outpatient programs, support groups, and sober living homes.

Depending on the type of drug you’re addicted to, your specific needs as an individual, and other factors such as your insurance coverage and housing situation, you might have different treatment options available to you. Read on to learn more about the different types of drug addiction treatment programs available as well as what steps you can take if you know someone who might need help conquering their substance abuse problem.

Inpatient Drug Rehab Treatment

Inpatient drug addiction treatment, also called residential treatment, is a program where you stay at an inpatient facility while receiving treatment. This is the most intensive type of drug addiction treatment, and it may be recommended if you have a serious substance use disorder and/or another mental health condition. Inpatient facilities may be short-term, long-term, or somewhere in between, depending on the program and your individual needs.

The benefits of inpatient drug addiction treatment include round-the-clock monitoring, a controlled environment, and the availability of medical and psychological treatment options, such as prescription medication and therapy. Some drawbacks of inpatient drug addiction treatment include high costs, a relatively strict environment that may not be ideal for everyone, and a lack of support after the patient has completed the program.

Outpatient Drug Rehab Treatment

Outpatient drug addiction treatment can be a good choice for people who can’t (or don’t want to) commit to an inpatient program. This type of program may also be recommended for people who need less intensive treatment. Some people may be required to complete an outpatient program as a first step before moving on to more intensive treatment.

Outpatient drug addiction treatment means that you’ll attend scheduled treatment sessions at a specified facility and will return to your own home (or a sober living facility) at the end of the day. Some people continue to live at home, while many choose to benefit from living at a sober living home while receiving outpatient behavioral therapies.

Outpatient programs vary widely in terms of length, structure, and intensity. Some programs may last only a few weeks, while others may go on for several months. You’ll likely be required to attend a certain number of hours of treatment per week, such as one or two hours, per day.

12-Step Recovery Programs

12-Step recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are self-help groups where participants support each other through recovery. Although these programs don’t provide professional therapy, they have helped thousands of people conquer their drug addiction.

Out of all the types of drug addiction treatment support groups, 12-step programs are the most accessible. There are no upfront costs to join, and most communities have at least one 12-step meeting per day.

Many 12-step programs use a combination of group support, meditation, and reading literature that’s designed to help you let go of your addiction. There are also online versions of some of these programs, such as AA and NA.

Support Groups for Substance Use Disorders

Support groups are self-help groups where people with similar conditions can gather together and discuss their experiences. Support groups for drug addiction are typically based on a particular drug or substance, such as Alcoholics Anonymous for alcohol addiction or Narcotics Anonymous for opiate addiction. There are many different types of support groups for drug addiction, and you may find that you benefit from attending more than one group.

There are plenty of secular non-spiritual support groups, such as SMART Recovery, that exist as alternatives to 12-step programs. You can also start your own support group in your community. Some of the benefits of support groups include a sense of community and camaraderie, the ability to let go of shame and guilt, and a chance to learn from others’ experiences.

Best Types of Therapy for Drug Addiction

Therapy can help you and your loved ones understand the factors that may have contributed to your drug addiction, such as a history of trauma or mental health issues, and learn valuable coping skills that can help you avoid a relapse. Therapy can be any of the following: individual therapy, group therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, or other modalities.

Depending on your specific needs, treatment type, and other factors, you may benefit from one type of therapy more than others. One of the best types of therapy for drug addiction is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy is excellent for treating drug addiction because it helps you identify and change negative thought patterns, which is helpful if you struggle with addiction.

Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes are transitional residences where recovering addicts live together under the supervision of staff members who also live on-site. An addicted person can engage in the recovery process at a sober living, learning skills and strategies to prevent relapse while they regain control over their life. A sober living is not the same as a treatment center, nor can they provide medically supervised detox, but they provide long-term care and supervision and can significantly amplify the effects of professional help.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and looking for a supportive environment to aid in the recovery process, sober living in Los Angeles may be a great option. Call us now for help at 424-237-4614.

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Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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