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How to Overcome Addiction

Nearly half of the people in the United States have a family member or close friend who’s experienced addiction. Still, despite the fact that addiction is a common struggle — and one that doesn’t discriminate when it comes to race, education, or income level — so few of us really understand what it is. More importantly, so many wonder how to cure it. What is addiction, and is it really possible to escape it? Read on to learn more.

Substance Use Disorder Defined

According to the CDC, substance use disorders are “treatable, chronic diseases characterized by a problematic pattern of use of a substance or substances leading to impairments in health, social function, and control over substance use.” Like other chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma, substance use disorder has its roots in genetics and lifestyle. Substance use disorder doesn’t get better on its own, and can last a lifetime if not successfully managed.

Symptoms of Addiction 

The symptoms of addiction are just as layered as its causes: Doctors diagnose substance use disorder by looking at a group of symptoms across a person’s brain function, behavior, and health. Overall, they are looking for signs that someone continues drinking or using even when there are negative results of that use.

For example, is the individual facing issues at work because of their drinking or drug use? Are their relationships suffering? Are they experiencing legal difficulties, or health problems? If substance use is causing problems — but it’s still not enough to stop — substance use disorder could be at play.

The level of the substance use disorder is defined by how many symptoms an individual is experiencing: mild, moderate, or severe.

Addiction & Mental Health

Complicating things even further, addiction is often deeply intertwined with mental health issues. For example, many people suffering from challenges like anxiety or depression self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. However, that dangerous cocktail only makes symptoms worse, creating a brutal cycle that is so hard to escape.

At the same time, drugs and alcohol can cause mental health troubles. Alcohol is a depressant, for example. Marijuana can cause psychotic episodes, especially in teens and young adults. 

Because addiction is a brain disease, it makes sense that it would be deeply linked to mental health.

How to Heal Addiction

Successfully treating addiction begins with acknowledging that fact: Substance use disorder can only be managed when trauma and mental health difficulties are treated as well. Today, most reputable addiction treatment programs take a trauma-informed, dual-diagnosis approach; meaning, they treat substance use disorder and any related mental health difficulties at the very same time. 

In residential addiction treatment at Holland Pathways in Wichita, our Masters-level clinicians work with each client individually to create a treatment plan to heal his or her inner challenges as well as substance abuse. People suffering from PTSD could benefit from EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprogramming), for example. Or, group therapy sessions could help someone with attachment issues learn how to trust again.

No matter which type of addiction treatment you choose for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to know that substance use disorder doesn’t have to be a death sentence. It is treatable, and it is manageable. Everyone deserves to find recovery and live a life free from addiction, and it’s possible for everyone.

The path to recovery doesn’t have to be a hard one. When you’re ready, we’ll meet you where you’re at to walk with you on the journey to a better life — one with healthy relationships, stability, and happiness. Contact our experienced and empathetic admissions team today to learn more.