There’s Hope and Help for Those Struggling with a Substance Use Disorder

January 18, 2021

Overcoming a substance use disorder is not a matter of willpower, just as developing one doesn’t mean a person is weak-willed or lacking morals. The reality is, addiction is a complex brain disease — one that involves compulsive behavior and a loss of control over whatever substance the person is craving.

While using substances might be a choice at first, over time changes in areas of the brain that regulate decision-making, behavior control and judgment lead to intense cravings for drugs or alcohol. Those are also the very things that make self-control alone an ineffective approach to overcoming addiction.

A Key Component of Addiction

The chemical neurotransmitter dopamine is responsible for pleasurable feelings. When dopamine is activated, it signals the brain that a reward is coming. But it is also a major factor in addiction. Dopamine levels increase by as much as 10 times the normal level when drugs or alcohol are used, causing the “rush” that many substance users talk about. Over time, the brain needs more of the substance to get the same feeling. Soon, the substance is needed just to feel “normal” and those with a substance use disorder may feel unwell and anxious without it.

Dealing with Addictive Behavior

But there is hope. Those with substance use disorders who get treatment and stick with it can stop using drugs or alcohol. Change is possible, but it requires effort and a commitment to following the treatment program for as long as needed. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it also involves learning new ways of thinking, feeling and dealing with problems.

Getting Help

Northwest Texas Healthcare System Behavioral Health can help those struggling with a range of substance use disorders. The level of care and treatment plan details are determined through an initial assessment. There are both inpatient and intensive outpatient programs available for those dealing with drug, alcohol or dual diagnosis issues.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a substance use disorder, there is hope and help. It begins with taking that first step towards recovery. The confidential, professional and compassionate care offered at Northwest Texas Healthcare System Behavioral Health just might be the right place to start.

Recognizing Addictive Behaviors

Substance use disorders don’t just affect those individuals struggling with addiction. They affect their family and friends as well. Noticeable changes in behavior may include the following:

Lying

It may start with small lies that can eventually lead to drawn-out tall tales. Dishonesty might be used as a tool to throw people off from the truth of their addiction.

Manipulation

Will convince loved ones that this is the last time they drink or use drugs, that they have it under control and promise to get help.

Criminal Behavior

When money is low, the substance user may start selling drugs, steal from the homes of family and friends or engage in robbery or shoplifting to pay for their habit.

Blaming Others

The substance user does not usually see they have a problem, and will often blame others for their misfortune.

Abuse

Spouses and children of substance users can often become victims of physical, emotional and verbal abuse.