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Frequently Asked Questons -FAQ

01. What is addiction? How do I recognize it?

Addiction is an uncontrolled emotional and physical dependence on a substance like alcohol or drugs. There are many clear warning signs that can help you recognize addiction, such as:

a. Increased use of alcohol or drugs
b. Denying or trying to hide drinking or drug use
c. Forgetting or denying things which happen while under the influence
d. Spending time with other drinkers or drug users
e. Downplaying or justifying drinking or drug use
f. Behaving very differently when intoxicated
g. Using alcohol or drugs to improve self-esteem

02. What is Drug Addiction Treatment?

Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, in many different forms, and for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, treatment often is not sufficient for many; long-term treatment is usually provides much better outcomes.

A variety of scientifically based approaches to drug addiction treatment exists. Drug addiction treatment can include behavioral therapy (such as counseling, cognitive therapy, or psychotherapy), medications, or their combination. Behavioral therapies offer people strategies for coping with their drug cravings, teach them ways to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and help them deal with relapse if it occurs.

When a person's drug-related behavior places him or her at higher risk for AIDS or other infectious diseases, behavioral therapies can help to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

The best programs provide a combination of therapies and other services to meet the needs of the individual patient, which are shaped by such issues as age, race, culture, gender, pregnancy, parenting, housing, and employment, as well as physical and sexual abuse.

Medications, such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, or neuroleptics, may be critical for treatment success when patients have co-occurring mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or psychosis.

03. What causes an addiction?

An addiction can start for a variety of reasons. Addiction can develop from a dependency or from experimentation. Some drugs are so powerful that it is possible to become addicted the first few times they are taken.
Other reasons include:

• Escapism
• Peer pressure (especially young people)
• Develops from a legitimate reason, e.g. prescription drugs
• Genetics (still open to debate)
• Stress
• Environment
• Family life/upbringing
• Mental illness
• Addictive personality

There is often more than factor involved but sometimes an addiction appears to start for no apparent reason. Other times it occurs for complex reasons

04. Are there any risk factors for addiction?

Yes. These are indicators of whether someone is likely to become an addict but are NOT causes of an addiction.
These include:

• Personality, i.e. an ‘addictive personality’
• Family
• Environment
• Friends
• Career
• Genetics
• Medical condition
• Mental state

This doesn’t mean that they will become an addict but are indicators for doing so

05. Why Can't Drug Addicts quit on their own?

Nearly all addicted individuals believe in the beginning that they can stop using drugs on their own, and most try to stop without treatment. However, most of these attempts result in failure to achieve long-term abstinence.

Research has shown that long-term drug use results in significant changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops using drugs. These drug-induced changes in brain function may have many behavioral consequences, including the compulsion to use drugs despite adverse consequences -- the defining characteristic of addiction.

Understanding that addiction has such an important biological component may help explain an individual's difficulty in achieving and maintaining abstinence without treatment. Psychological stress from work or family problems, social cues (such as meeting individuals from one's drug-using past), or the environment (such as encountering streets, objects, or even smells associated with drug use) can interact with biological factors to hinder attainment of sustained abstinence and make relapse more likely.

06. How effective is Drug Addiction Treatment?

In addition to stopping drug use, the goal of treatment is to return the individual to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community.

Measures of effectiveness typically include levels of criminal behavior, family functioning, employability, and medical condition. Overall, treatment of addiction is as successful as treatment of other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.

According to several studies, drug treatment reduces drug use by 40 to 60 percent and significantly decreases criminal activity during and after treatment.

Individual treatment outcomes depend on the extent and nature of the patient's presenting problems, the appropriateness of the treatment components and related services used to address those problems, and the degree of active engagement of the patient in the treatment process.

07. Is addiction treatment worth its financial cost?

Yes, addiction treatment is absolutely worth the financial cost. The benefits of leading a healthy, balanced life after successful addiction treatment is priceless and can last a lifetime.

08. How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Last?

Individuals progress through drug addiction treatment at various speeds, so there is no predetermined length of treatment. However, research has shown that good outcomes are contingent on adequate lengths of treatment.

Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, 90 days period of time is considered the minimal treatment period to achieve good amount of benefits from the treatment program.

Many people who enter treatment drop out before receiving all the benefits that treatment can provide. Successful outcomes may require sometimes more than one treatment experience. Many addicted individuals have multiple episodes of treatment, often with a cumulative impact.

09. What Helps People Stay in Treatment?

Since successful outcomes often depend upon retaining the person long enough to gain the full benefits of treatment, strategies for motivating the individual to stay in the program are critical.

Whether a patient stays in treatment depends on factors associated with both the individual and the program. Individual factors related to engagement and retention include motivation to change drug-using behavior, degree of support from family and friends, and whether there is pressure to stay in treatment from the criminal justice system, employers, or the family.

Within the program, successful counselors are able to establish a positive, therapeutic relationship with the patient. The counselor should ensure that a treatment plan is established and followed so that the individual knows what to expect during treatment. Medical, psychiatric, and social services should be available.

10. How Can Families Make a Difference for Someone Needing Treatment?

Family and friends can play critical roles in motivating individuals with drug problems to enter and stay in treatment. Family therapy is important, especially for adolescents. Involvement of a family member in an individual's treatment program can strengthen and extend the benefits of the program.

11. What are the mental effects of addiction?

The psychological effects of an addiction differ between individuals. Everyone reacts differently to a substance and what is extreme in one person may be at a lesser extent in another.
The mental effects of an addiction include:

• Mood swings
• Paranoia
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Anger or hostility
• Lack of motivation
• Irritability
• Agitation
• Complete change of personality

12. What does heroin addiction do to a person’s life?

Heroin is one the most addictive drugs. Heroin is an opioid and a depressant, meaning it slows down the brain’s ability to function. Heroin is usually injected and can also be smoked and snorted. Heroin created a highly desirable sense of pleasure and euphoria and almost immediately creates a craving for more of the drug.

A person who becomes addicted to heroin has no desire to do anything but to get more heroin. He/she will most likely lie, cheat or steal in order to find the next high. People addicted to heroin lose relationships, especially those that are most important to them, and are unable to function in daily life. People who inject heroin, meaning they use it intravenously are at risk for diseases such a HIV, AIDS and hepatitis. Heroin addiction can lead to debt, insanity and death.

13. Can using cannabis (Hashish, Bango, Marijuana) lead to the use of harder drugs?

There is an argument about whether using cannabis leads to harder drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Some would argue that there is a natural progression from cannabis through to hard drugs - known as a ‘gateway drug’. This changes the chemistry of the brain which makes it more susceptible to the effects of hard drugs.

They also argue that someone who uses cannabis is far more likely to try other drugs. However, others argue that there is no proven link between the two, and that there are people who use cannabis because it is easily available or have tried it before other drugs. It is often the case that cannabis is the first drug people try due to its availability.

14. Should a person that uses Cannabis (Hashish, Bango, marijuana) on a daily basis seek substance abuse treatment?

Marijuana contains the chemical THC which is a mood and mind altering drug. THC occurs naturally in marijuana plants and when taken into the body causes a ‘high’ feeling in the brain. Marijuana is most commonly smoked, although it can be ingested in the form of various foods. It has not been scientifically proven that marijuana or THC is addictive, however if used over extended periods of time in a habitual manner, a person can develop a dependence on marijuana.

Many people use the justification that, “marijuana is not physically addictive”, therefore they do not have a problem, and however, marijuana can negatively affect a person’s life on a number of different levels. Marijuana decreases short-term memory capacity, creates confusion, paranoia, anxiety and restlessness. In addition marijuana can negatively impact a person’s motor skills as well as his/her ability to feel emotions. Marijuana is often used in combination with other drugs and treatment for marijuana abuse is available and readily utilized

15. Can a person be too young to have problems with drug addiction and alcoholism?

There is no minimum age requirement for a person to have alcoholism or drug addiction. In recent years there has been a trend in which younger and younger people have begun to experiment with alcohol and drugs. Statistically, people who begin to use at a young age have higher chances of becoming dependent and addicted. Drug addiction and alcoholism do not discriminate and the affect people across all backgrounds, ages and classes.

16. How does an addiction start in young people?

An addiction can start for a variety of reasons. A very common factor is that of peer pressure: young people don’t like to be different from their friends and want to be part of the group.

If that group enjoys drinking or taking drugs then it can very difficult to resist especially if not doing so means that they are excluded from the group.

Experimentation is another reason. Many young people like to dabble in new and sometimes risky activities and drugs/alcohol/smoking are part of that. It is often done out of a sense of curiosity but it is easy to become hooked. Sometimes, teenagers try illicit substances as an act of rebellion or to defy their parents or teachers. They see it as part of being an adult or growing up.

Some young people choose to take drugs or drink as a means of escaping a chaotic home life or a deprived background.
Teenagers tend to be impulsive and take risks so illegal substances are no different in this aspect.

17. I think my son or daughter has been taking drugs, what do I do?

If you suspect that he/she has taken drugs then your first thought will be to ask her about this.
It is not easy to confront a teenager with this but it is better if you can have a rational discussion with him/her about this rather than a full on argument.

Explain that you want to help and are not going to condemn or criticize him/her about this. It is not a case of being ‘in trouble’ but a realization that he/she has a complex disorder that requires treatment. If this is a case of experimentation then sit down with him/her and discuss all aspects of doing so. Encourage him/her to see that this can be harmful and possible lead to dependency and addiction. Explain to him/her that he/she can always come to you for help and also be prepared to point him/her in the direction of treatment experts that can deal with it right.

18. How does addiction impact the family?

Addiction is a family disease. Families are profoundly affected by addiction and even though they may not be abusing drugs and alcohol, the presence of addiction in a family does change the way families think, feel and act. Everyone in a family experiences addiction differently. Some try to take control over uncontrollable issues, some feel shame, some feel guilty, some feel responsible, some experience depression, and some simply leave.

19. How can you tell if someone has a problem with prescription drugs?

Prescription drug abuse is very hard to detect because a person taking medication in the form of pills has the ability to hide his/her use. A person with a prescription drug abuse problem may act differently or be preoccupied with going to the pharmacy or drug store in excess. Careless prescription drug abusers may leave medical prescriptions lying around and they may go through outrageous numbers of pills in short periods of time.

In order to tell if someone has a problem it is often necessary to keep track of the number of pills disappearing each day. Abnormal behavior, specifically behavior related to the medicines being taken may also indicate a growing abuse of the pills.

20. Can you become addicted to club drug such as ecstasy?

Ecstasy or MDMA has a chemical structure similar to hallucinogens and stimulants. The drug commonly comes in the form of a pill and is swallowed. Research shows that ecstasy is not a physically addictive drug however users do build up a tolerance to the drug quickly. People who use ecstasy regularly may find that they start to believe they are unable to function normally without the drug.

Even if ecstasy is not physically addictive, it is extremely detrimental to the body and mind. Ecstasy can cause muscle meltdown and has caused death because of excessive dehydration and organ (kidney & liver) failure.

21. Is it possible to become addicted to a drug even if you have only tried it once?

In most cases a person will not become addicted to a drug if it is only tried once, however highly addictive drugs such as heroin and amphetamines may create a craving, even after the first use. A person who has tried a drug once may want to continue to use the drug, thus developing dependence and addiction. Having obsessive thoughts and creating schemes to get more of the drug may indicate mounting addictive tendencies.

22. I have a depression/anxiety problem; can this lead me to be a drug addict?

Usually, people suffering from depression, or anxiety, or sometimes both, are feeling bad because of what they usually experience because of their condition, some of them may tend to use psychoactive substances, or illicit drugs to try feeling better, or as sometimes called for “self-medication”.

The problem with this is that using these substances will never treat the cause of the original condition in the first place (depression/anxiety), plus the danger of building tolerance to these substances, and developing a drug dependence state or addiction.
People who are suffering from depression and/or anxiety should be seeking professional help to improve what they feel in a healthy safe way, and under professional supervision.