Drug Abuse

One thing that is fairly obvious about substance abuse in San Diego is that it is misunderstood.

Many people make the mistake of assuming that it is a voluntary issue or one that you can easily just stop. However, dependence on a substance physically changes your body, which makes it difficult to quit. You’re not alone in your dependence, either. It is estimated that around 876,000 people over the age of 12 in California were suffering from some type of substance use disorder and were dependent on a substance in 2013 and 2014.

Substance use disorder usually starts slow, which is part of the reason why its hold on a person comes as a surprise. Some people start to use a substance simply to try it while others are drawn to it because they are suffering from an underlying issue, such as:

  • Depression
  • Acute anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders
  • A mental imbalance like bipolar disorder

At the beginning, the substance offers relief and escapism, which is partly what makes the drug addictive. Many people have the ability to stop using the drug at this point, but the effects are desirable enough for the user to overlook this choice, giving the drug enough time to attack in a more permanent way. The neurological responses to the drug then begin to alter the brain.

Your brain contains a reward circuit that allows you to feel pleasure in response to acts you perform to survive, such as eating. When you use drugs, you essentially flood your brain’s reward circuit with dopamine. Over time with continued drug use, your brain adjusts by producing less dopamine on its own. This can make it less pleasurable to do the things you love.

A person also goes through behavioral changes. You might begin to suffer from inhibited impulse control, which directly affects how you respond to cravings. You also may change the way you make decisions, learn, and remember things. It can be scary realizing that you’ve gone through so many changes, and a substance abuse treatment program can help you get back to your old self again.


Recognizing substance use disorder

Addiction treatment cannot begin until you first realize and accept that you have a substance use disorder. It is not always easy to recognize, but paying close attention to your behavior or the behavior of a loved one can help.

The following are just a few signs that may act as warnings of dependence:

  • Feeling and looking malnourished, usually due to paying less attention to nutrition
  • Unusual odors coming from the body, which can also be attributed to overlooking personal hygiene
  • Missing important engagements with increasingly less regard, which could include work or school
  • Seeking isolation or engaging in secretive behavior
  • Disruptions in otherwise healthy relationships such as romances or friendships
  • Undergoing financial problems or even legal problems
  • Unprovoked irritability, defensiveness or loss of interest in things that used to matter

If you or a loved one is experiencing some of these warning signs, it’s not too late to make changes. You may want to seek out a San Diego drug rehab treatment plan. Call us at (866) 221-2688 to speak to one of our addiction specialists to see what treatment options you have.


What substances lead to addiction?

Most people hear the word “addiction” and automatically think of drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. However, there are plenty of other substances out there that can lead to dependence. Some of these include:

Pain medications – Pain relievers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, are often prescribed legally after surgeries or injuries. Many mistakenly believe that because these drugs are legal, they are safe to use to get high. However, using these drugs can be addictive if you don’t follow your doctor’s dosage instructions.

Prescription depressants and stimulants – Sleeping pills, anxiety medications and other depressants, along with ADHD and narcolepsy medications, can become addictive if misused.

Steroids – Steroids, when misused, can lead to addiction, although they do not result in a high.

Inhalants – Aerosols and gasses, such as those from paint fumes and household cleaning products, can result in an addictive high.

Club Drugs – Drugs that are often passed around at parties, such as ecstasy, LSD and other dissociative or hallucinogenic drugs, are referred to as “club drugs.”

Alcohol and tobacco – While legal and commonly used, these substances can both be addictive and lead to health issues down the road.


Dealing with substance abuse

If you’re struggling with dependence on one of the aforementioned substances or others, you may be seeking treatment and wondering how to deal with your addiction. The first step often lies in drug detoxification. During drug detox, you’ll stop taking the addictive substance and allow it to leave your body. You may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, convulsions and anxiety. However, detox aims to manage your withdrawal symptoms, and you’ll have access to staff who can help keep you safe and comfortable.

The next step is to be admitted into an outpatient or inpatient substance abuse treatment program. During outpatient substance addiction treatment, you’ll attend regularly occurring counseling and therapy sessions. If you elect to take part in an inpatient addiction treatment plan, you’ll stay overnight at a San Diego addiction treatment facility for a few weeks to a few months, where you’ll have 24-hour access to supportive staff and limited interaction with the things that might trigger your substance abuse.

Realizing that you might have a substance abuse problem can be scary and make you feel alone and hopeless. But you can recover, and help is available for you. Everyone responds to addiction treatment differently, and you need a personalized treatment plan that works for you. Give us a call today to learn about the drug addiction recovery options available to San Diego residents and get started on a treatment plan that’s unique to your needs.

If you think you might have an addiction to one of these substances, give one of our addiction specialists a call at (866) 221-2688. We can help you find the substance abuse help in San Diego that you need to recover.

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