Addiction is a complex brain disease that manifests with compulsive substance use even when the behavior results in harmful consequences. People with Substance Use Disorder, or SUD, focus intensely on their drug of choice to the point of impairing normal daily life. It becomes an obsession called addiction.
The Torture of Addiction
SUD sufferers experience thought distortions that can make it seem impossible to overcome their addiction. Oftentimes, they’ll believe that sobriety equates to feelings of depression, withdrawal, and misery, and the only physical state that does feel good is inebriation. They dread getting sober because they fear feeling sick.
Drug and alcohol use causes changes to the functioning of the areas of the brain that control impulses and movements, personality and mood, and recognizing dangers and rewards. Inebriation can quite literally cause brain damage and changes that last long after the drugs or alcohol wear off.
Chronic drug and alcohol users build up a tolerance to their drug of choice, resulting in the need for more and more of a substance to feel high. In time, the regions of the brain that control feelings of inebriation send out too many signals to the hormone center. The hormone center pumps out so many reward chemicals that the brain’s receptors become desensitized to it, and users can’t feel high anymore.
They’re in the depths of addiction. SUD sufferers at rock bottom can’t feel happy and are truly suffering from deep feelings of depression and hopelessness. They can even become suicidal. Not only are they at rock bottom emotionally and mentally, but their body also requires intoxicants to function. Stopping without help can cause seizures, incredible suffering, and even death. Most users have lost their support system and career at this point, even though they need support now more than ever.
What people suffering from SUD don’t need is to be enabled by people who love them. It can be easy to fall into the trap of giving addicts money. Money is the most powerful tool addicts need to hurt themselves. When someone is at or near rock bottom, they’re in very real danger of dying from an overdose or suicide.
People with SUDs may or may not be aware of their disorder. If they know they’ve got a problem, they might be helpless to stop it. The combination of physical and psychological problems is often too much for addicts to endure and overcome, even with a strong support system and professional help. To force someone to stop won’t work. They have to be ready to feel better, admit they have a problem, and be willing to leave everyone who contributes to their addiction behind.
If someone you love is suffering from addiction, don’t contribute to their problem. You could be contributing to their eventual overdose death. Don’t let them become another sad statistic. Find the strength to say “no,” even if you need to get someone to stand beside you while you say it.
Statistics About Drug and Alcohol Addiction
According to provisional data from the CDC, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, drug and alcohol addiction has skyrocketed. Drug overdose deaths from May 2019 through May 2020 were 81,000 in the United States alone — the most overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12 months span.
Of the 38 states that keep track of opioid overdose death data, 37 reported increasing overdose deaths, 18 jurisdictions reported increases of more than 50%, and 10 states saw a 98% increase in opioid overdose deaths.
When addicts die of an overdose, it’s becoming more common to discover that their cocaine was laced with synthetic fentanyl or heroin, which are much stronger and more dangerous than cocaine.
Methamphetamine deaths increased by 34.8%, and meth-related overdose deaths now outnumber cocaine overdose deaths. Meth has infiltrated small-town America from coast to coast and border to border.
Alcohol-related deaths account for one out of 20 deaths worldwide, according to The WHO. Three out of four alcohol-related deaths are men. More than half of the population of the world drinks alcohol, and that number increases every year.
Getting and Staying Sober
It’s understandable that the disruption to daily life, job losses, financial hits, business failures, and deaths of loved ones to COVID can put sober people into crisis, and people who’ve never had a drug or alcohol problem into the cycle of addiction. People suffering from SUDs are having particularly difficult struggles right now and need help from their support network.
Topsail Addiction Treatment is here to help SUD sufferers in Boston get their lives back. If you or someone you love is struggling right now, we can give you the support, information, and education necessary to stop thought distortions, withstand triggers, and maintain sobriety for life.