Chemical Dependency is a disease which main characteristic is compulsive use of any substance, such as alcohol, cocaine, crack, marijuana, drugs, lsd, among others, even though this use brings losses to social, family, financial, professional and physical life of the user.
The use of alcohol and drugs has always been present in humanity. Over time, different forms of it and various types of drugs contributed to today’s epidemic of use and problems related to chemical substances. In today’s society drugs have been tolerated in all segments, trivializing the use and the effects of them. Knowing the disease and forms of treatment demystify misconceptions and save many lives.
The lack of information about the disease makes people treat the addict as immoral without willpower, without family love and support or without a purpose in life.
Not everybody who tries some drug will develop dependence, but 10 to 15% will.
Who are these people? There are studies that show that 60% of the determining factors are genetically inherited and family studies show that new addicts can be found within three following generations of the previous dependent.
In addition to genetic factors, we found that these people have common personality traits, like pleasure at taking risk and living dangerously, difficulty in accepting rules and boundaries, pleasure at challenging the authority of others, never finishing activities they start, being compulsive for anything that gives pleasure (food, sex, gambling). In general, they are impulsive and may have personality disorders, such as depression, social phobia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, psychoses and hyperactivity disorder.
As school, professional and family problems increase, the drug user see themselves driven to consume more to relieve guilt, fear, anger, shame, depression, anxiety and remorse. And it gets stuck in an emotional and physical trap, because the drug effect is no longer the same as the first time.
When the addict makes use of the drug and the effects begin disappear, they feel the pain of failure, abstinence crisis. The symptoms are specific to each drug, but it always causes a lot of anxiety, depression, irritability, mental and emotional confusion, insomnia, lack of appetite. And to relieve these symptoms, the addict makes use of the drug over and over again making it a vicious circle.
The dependents usually begin exchanging one drug to another to supply its lack and the abstinence crisis. This compulsive use and behavior changing demonstrate the loss of the ability to analyze, to reason, to interpret and make decisions about their own lives. The addict becomes dependent on drug effects and so does the family dependent on the addict’s behavior. Everyone becomes confused and unstable. The more frequently the addict takes the drug, the more frequently problems appear.
It is important to know what addiction is and what its signs are. You may have a friend, a relative or an acquaintance showing these symptoms, without knowing exactly what it is or how to treat it. And what are these signs?
– Compulsive use of a substance even if it is causing problems in their life or in other people´s lives.
– Subjective perception of the harmful effects of drug use in which the person isn’t able to associate the use to their problems. The person thinks that they take drugs because they have a problem, when in fact the problem exists because they take drugs.
– The person has withdrawal symptoms caused by lack of drugs and they return to use it to relieve these symptoms.
– There is increasing tolerance, being necessary to use it more frequently and in a larger variety of drugs in order to control the desired effects. For example, the addict drinks alcohol to control the effects of cocaine, and smokes marijuana to control the lack of alcohol.
– The patient presents loss of self-criticism and consciousness, lying, manipulating or making emotional blackmail to keep using it.
– The patient also minimizes the consequences always with excuses to justify the use, as saying that marijuana is natural, that alcohol is a way to socialize, that everyone drinks.
– Addicts have affective losses and professional and financial problems resulting from the use of drugs. They also start making new friends, usually within the same circle of user of drugs.
– They have also many attempts and promises about stopping using the substance. All of them with no success.
– They deny that they need help and that the use of drug is bringing them some problems.
STAGES OF ADDICTION
A dependência química, em geral, apresenta algumas fases distintas:
Initially, the person tries the substance, by curiosity, by chance, for emotional problems or influence of others. If that person has a predisposition to addiction, they will have a pleasant reaction that will make them repeat the act more often, hoping to be able to increase the feeling they had the first time.
At this stage, the addict can still attend school, attend family events or even maintain their social network. Up to this point, the use is associated with fun and enjoyment.
Drug abuse is characterized by compulsive and repetitive use of one or more substances, causing behavioral changes, physical reactions and social problems, frequently or sporadically, but with consequences after each consume, such as fights, accidents, arguments, faint, mood swings among others.
At this stage the person begins to avoid frequent contact with the family, change their habits, preferring different places and people who also use drugs.
The decrease of family contact and so many changes, such as: friendship, lifestyle, music, interests, taste and objectives, demonstrate that one is using the drug more often and linking it to every moment of life. The person may not notice the change, but people around realize, and the fights start happening. The conflicts among members of the family and the users show that they are giving preference to the addiction.
And as the drug reaction is damaging the addict’s understanding of right and wrong, good and bad, they start to consume even more as an excuse to alleviate the problems. The person thinks that they take drugs because they have a problem, when in fact the problem exists because they take drugs. So at this stage, they no longer use drugs for pleasure but to avoid the lack of it.