Chemical dependency and addition are issues that affect us all. Many of us want our family members to get help. Referring them to a drug or alcohol detox center, especially one belonging to the Burke Family Practice, is a great way to help our loved ones. However, sometimes sending them to a family doctor in Fort Lauderdale from the Burke Family Practice just isn’t enough. To know how to deal with family members and friends who are experiencing addiction, it’s important to know about drug use and how addiction manifests. Here are some facts about drug use and addiction that you can use if you have a loved one with a substance abuse problem.
1. Many addicts start early, and often with substances considered more “mild.” If you’ve heard marijuana referred to as the “gateway drug,” it’s because more than half of new drug users begin by smoking this substance. The next most popular “gateway drug” is prescription pain relievers, as these are typically easier to get a hold of if you know someone who has these drugs or if the user was previously prescribed a pain medicine. Finally, inhalants are most commonly used by younger teens and are the third most popular “first” for illicit drug users. Many users begin in their teen years, and this addiction carries over into adulthood.
2. There’s a good chance that you or someone you know is using illegal or illicit substances. In 2011 alone, 8.7% of the U.S. population had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic or prescribed medication (e.g. pain relievers, stimulants, or tranquilizers). That’s approximately every one in eleven individuals. The need for easy access to addiction services in the U.S. is clear.
3. The first step to addiction recovery, beyond an addict admitting that he or she requires treatment, is to detoxify from drugs or alcohol. Detoxification, or detox, is the process by which the body eliminates toxins from drugs and alcohol. However, it’s important to know how drug detox works with each substance. A patient who is addicted to an opioid, such as heroin or morphine, should not go “cold turkey” and quit all at once. This can potentially lead to relapse where users return to the drug or other serious medical problems. For these users, detox should happen gradually, weaning the user off of the opioid.
4. Some addiction treatments may require the use of another, less severe drug to aid the user in detoxification and treatment. For heroin users, this typically means using methadone until recovery is complete. Those with alcohol dependence may use naltrexone, a treatment approved in 1994 after the publication of two randomized, controlled trials two years prior. These methods of combatting addiction eventually help addicts to live free of other substances.
For those who experience addiction firsthand, or those who know others with drug and alcohol problems, there is help available. Drug and alcohol detox centers are the best solution, and going to your doctor or seeing one at the Burke Family Practice can be the first step in recovery.