Substance Use Disorder and Addiction Overview

Ethical, non-judgmental solutions for the whole family system

Although addiction remains stigmatized in the United States, our comprehension of its causes and its effects on the brain continues to grow. Addiction in general is regarded as a brain disease that involves repetitive engagement in a certain activity despite the adverse effects and harmful consequences of that activity. Formerly known pejoratively as Drug Addiction, the term used now when referring to substance use is Substance Use Disorder (SUD) in an attempt to reshape the way that society views substance addiction by correctly classifying it as a disorder.

Some of the possible outcomes of an addiction include:

  • Financial difficulties

  • Loss of employment

  • Decreased mental and physiological health

  • Legal troubles

  • Loss of interest in activities that were once a passion

  • Problems in relationships

  • Sudden death

In order to protect your loved ones from addiction, it is crucial to be able to identify the warning signs and symptoms of an addiction, some of which include:

  • Difficulty with employment or school related to timeliness, performance, and disciplinary actions

  • Strained relationships with family and friends

  • Behaviors that could be described as “out of character”

  • Declining physical health

  • Unexplained absences from work or school

  • Lying – regarding one’s location, spending, etc.

Neuroscience of Addiction

Substance use affects the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and noradrenaline. The result of excessive substance abuse is a chemical imbalance in the brain – which is also known to cause mental health disorders such as clinical depression and bipolar disorder.

Hereditary Factors of Addiction

Addiction can be formed through behavioral habits, as well as by chemical dependence on a substance. Our understanding of how addiction affects the brain is well researched, but due to the complex nature of neuroscience, there is still much that we don’t understand. It’s believed that addiction is partially hereditary, although there is not one known gene that causes addiction or addictive behaviors to be passed down through generations. A combination of genes and other environmental factors are believed to be responsible for developing addictions. Individuals with a family history of substance use or mental health disorders are at an increased risk for developing those same disorders later in life. The diverse nature of addiction highlights the need for a personalized approach to substance abuse treatment that caters to the unique needs of each individual client.

Treatment Modalities

There is a wide range of treatment options for those suffering from Substance Use Disorder. While many treatment facilities still follow the rigorous guidelines of the 12 step program, there are also a number of innovative methods that are being used to combat addiction. In order to create a personalized approach to treatment, traditional evidence based practices alongside alternative and holistic therapies are recommended. Treatment often begins with a thorough medical evaluation as withdrawal from alcohol and/or drugs can be potentially fatal.

Family Therapy

The involvement of family in treatment programs is known to have a positive effect on treatment outcomes. Family therapy is designed to help promote effective communication methods, which can have a significant impact on home life. Defining healthy boundaries can also help families heal after the substance abuse of a loved one.

Seeking Help for Addiction

Substance Use impairs the brain. Because of this impairment, individuals are often unable to clearly see how their abuse or dependence of substances impacts their lives and the lives of those around them. An intervention is a loving meeting of family and friends who are concerned about persons relationship with substances or destructive behaviors. It is a structured meeting led by a professional. An intervention is a process which includes a healing opportunity for the entire family starting with their loved one entering the correct level of formal treatment. Once a person is in an environment where their brain can begin to heal from the substances and behaviors connected, they have an opportunity to make a decision about changing their trajectory and entering on a path of healing. We have found it vital to work with our clients entering treatment and their loved ones for a minimum of six months in order to provide support and new skills for sustainable health. If you or a loved one is suffering from a substance use disorder or other addiction, please reach out for help today.

You are not alone

We will work together with you to develop a plan of healing for you and your entire family system.

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