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Drug abuse rarely makes sense to the outsider. Addiction is, by its very definition, no longer a conscious choice. Rather, it’s a physiological and biochemical dependence. The stigmas associated with drug addiction often frustrate members of our society. That frustration, combined with a profound misunderstanding, undermines any sympathy we might grant to those struggling with addiction.

The mindset people bring to the table plays an influential role during their interactions with an addict. In the worst-case scenarios, friends and family sometimes disrupt the progress an addict made and/or fuel unhealthy decisions.

The abuse of prescription drugs continues to proliferate nationwide, especially when it comes to opioids. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintain a public resource dedicated to helping people understand the epidemic. According to their most recent statistics, “on average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.” There’s a growing contingent of people under the impression that the grand majority of those deaths are preventable with revised healthcare policies and practices. Others prefer to focus their attention on those addicts who might still recover and lead fulfilling lives.

That’s what makes interventions and drug rehab programs so fundamental. We all hope to do everything in our powers to prevent an addict from relapsing. Speculation is the best we can do, without access to the medical professional(s) that diagnose patients and drug addiction is a complex phenomenon. The rise in dual diagnoses adds to that complexity. Dual diagnosis means that someone suffers from both a mental health disorder and substance abuse at once. The two conditions often exacerbate one another.

The medical industry must respond with a wide variety of treatments. Staff writers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) put together a comprehensive list of treatment programs. They introduce everything from short- and long-term residential treatment programs to individualized and group counseling. Detox and medication-assisted treatments (MATs) are some of the most successful treatment programs for substance abuse, with plenty of data to support various patient outcomes. Remember that each different approach caters to a specific patient profile. In other words, you cannot expect treatment programs to work for every addict. Some do not respond to programs until later, while others might never progress as expected.

Countless families and friends have suffered disproportionate amounts of time because of how long substance abuse by another can remain undetected. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic released a detailed overview of their own, which helps people identify risk factors, and offers tips on when to reach out to medical professionals. As one may guess, seeking help sooner rather than later has a meaningful impact on the chances for recovery. Having a degree of clarity regarding the situation is the first step towards solving a problem.

It’s also worth considering someone’s first-hand experience. Justin Caba, for example, shared his personal struggle overcoming drug addiction on Medical Daily. He does an excellent job explaining the nuanced circumstances that precipitated his drug abuse. He also describes how his substance abuse linked to his mental and emotional states. The narrative that he recounts contains obvious complexity and that’s only what he chose to reveal to everyone. Just one more reason to approach the subject with an open mind.

Adam Legas

Adam Legas

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