Drug Addiction FAQ
What is drug addiction?
Addiction is a condition characterized by repeated, compulsive seeking and use of drugs, alcohol or similar substances despite adverse social, mental and physical consequences. It is usually accompanied by psychological and physical dependence on the abused substance and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the addictive substance is rapidly decreased or terminated.
Is addiction a disease?
It is more accurate to consider addiction to be a mental and physical condition or a disability than a disease. Calling addiction a disease implies that it may be overcome or managed by the use of drugs or medications. Addiction can be overcome through physical means such as a thorough detoxification combined with mental or personal means such as improving a person's ability to handle the elements of his or her life and make correct decisions.
Why can't my loved one quit using drugs or alcohol on their own?
Addiction is a trap that it is very hard to escape from on one's own. A person gets locked into addiction through a combination of three factors: Guilt, depression and cravings. These factors, unrelieved, create enormous pressure that can drive a person back into drug or alcohol use when they try to quit, unless they get help.
Why does he (or she) say he will quit and then he doesn't?
No one wants to be an addict. No matter what an addict says, deep in his or her heart is a wish to live clean and sober again. A person may realize the damage they are doing and wish to get clean and sober but not have the strength to overcome the guilt, depression and cravings created by the ongoing substance abuse. But there is another scenario where this reversal can occur. An addicted person generally feels that the only way she can function or feel normal or the only way she can feel anything good in life is to be high. In a desperate attempt to continue to take addictive substances, she may try to manipulate those around her and tell them whatever they want to hear, just so they leave her alone. But even this person, if she could be completely honest, would prefer to be clean and sober again.
How does someone become addicted?
When addictive substances are taken repeatedly, the body develops a tolerance and needs greater amounts to get the same effect. As dosages are increased, the body begins to depend on these drugs to replace natural chemicals the body would normally produce. As this pattern repeats over time, the body and mind of the person begin to be locked into an addictive pattern. The body will crave the drugs if they are missing and withdrawal symptoms will kick in. The person will begin to suffer from depression, exhaustion, anxiety and similar conditions if they don't have the addictive substances. This change can happen very quickly, as in the case of oxycodone, crack cocaine, methamphetamine or Ecstasy, or it can be slower, as is often the case with alcohol or marijuana.
Why does an addicted person change so much?
When a person becomes trapped in addiction, it is as though the addiction makes decisions instead of them. For an addicted person, the need for drugs or alcohol is like the worst hunger they ever experienced and all they can think about is getting the substance they crave. It seems like life itself depends on getting the drug they need and using it. This is why an addicted person can ignore or abuse his or her own loved ones. They are not in control. The addiction is.
How can an honest person steal money or commit crimes after they become addicted?
One of a person's qualities that is routinely lost during addiction is one's personal integrity. It's like the addiction takes over and forces decisions and actions that the person himself or herself would never have committed when not addicted. Without effectively addressing and remedying this lost integrity, addiction treatment can fail. Addiction recovery must result in a reduction or elimination of cravings, a restoration of self-esteem and integrity, and an alleviation of depression, in order to have a lasting benefit.
How can cravings be overcome?
Some treatment programs cover up cravings by administering synthetic opiates combined with other drugs that may partially block their ability to make a person euphoric. This treatment itself is a trap because the person is chained to the medical treatment, sometimes for years. The Narconon New Life Detoxification Program provides each recovery addict's body with the help it needs to flush out old stored drug toxins that have been found to be involved with cravings. It uses moderate exercise, a strict nutritional supplementation program and time in a low-heat sauna to pull old drug residues out of the fatty tissues where they can remain lodged for years. After completion of this part of the Narconon drug rehab program, many people say that their cravings are greatly reduced. Some even say they are gone.
How can I get more information about drug addiction?
The Narconon International website at www.narconon.org has extensive information about drugs, addiction and drug rehabilitation.
What is harm reduction?
When some people feel that it is impossible to keep a drug addict from using more drugs, when recovery methods have failed again and again, they sometimes decide that the best they may be able to do is reduce the harm of using addictive substances. Under this heading, you will find methadone maintenance programs, clean needle programs and even safe "shooting rooms" where people who use heroin can go to shoot heroin under medical supervision. There are some improvements to public health and a reduction in crime from these methods.
Is harm reduction enough?
If harm reduction were the best that could be done, then it would be far better than doing nothing. But when real recovery from addiction is available, it is a disservice to make an addicted person think that drug substitution or clean needles is the best that can be done. At Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers around the world, real recovery is within reach for those who need help.
Is drug rehab a good investment?
Some families think that if they just help a person out when they are having problems with substance abuse, that everything might be all right. So they pay the person's rent, get him or her out of jail, help with medical bills or raising his children. They may even provide cash if the addicted person's story is plausible enough. If the addicted person is working in the family business or living with other family members, thefts or embezzlement can add up to the tens of thousands of dollars or more. It is very expensive to fail to find an effective rehabilitation program. Drug rehabilitation is an investment that can save many thousands of dollars if the family takes care to ensure that the program has an excellent success rate.
Is drug addiction treatment effective?
Drug addiction treatment can be very effective but a family must scrutinize a program carefully to get the best chance of recovery possible. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness." The Narconon drug recovery program is a self-paced program, meaning that a person finishes it at his or her own rate, usually three to five months. It has been proven to enable seven out of ten graduates to stay clean and sober after they go home. This program thoroughly addresses the three factors that keep a person trapped in addiction: Guilt, depression and cravings. The Narconon program provides remedies to alleviate these factors and the life skills to enable each graduate to make drug-free decisions, leading to its high success rate.
How can I get a person into rehab if they don't want to go?
When families have selected the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, they have two paths to help the addicted person arrive at the rehab center when the person refuses treatment. The first is to work with the intake counselors who understand how the addicted person feels and may be able to coach or guide the family through the steps to handle his or her resistance. If this fails, intake counselors can provide families with interventionists who will travel to the site and work with the addicted person to help him or her through the decision. Far from the kinds of group encounters seen on television, these interventions act by rekindling the innate desire of the addicted person to get clean and sober again.