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Defining a Drug Abuse Problem

Defining a Drug Abuse Problem

Treatment for a drug abuse problem should always fit the specific needs of the individual. For this reason, it is critical to understand the nature and the extent of the problem, and the first step in understanding the problem is to define it. Kansas City residents can learn how to identify and define drug abuse and addiction so they will know when to seek treatment for themselves or a loved one.

What Kansas City Residents Should Know about Addiction

The first thing Kansas City should understand about addiction is the effects and characteristics of the particular drug in question. Different drugs have different characteristics and different effects on the user.

The most important factor to consider may be whether or not the drug in question produces physical dependence. While addiction is a state of mind that involves a compulsive desire to use a drug, dependence is a physical condition in which the user will experience withdrawal symptoms if he or she stops taking the drug abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms are invariably unpleasant, but some withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous or even life-threatening; in these cases it is imperative to receive medical supervision during detox and not to attempt to quit “cold turkey” on your own.

Drugs that produce withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Alcohol – Despite being legal, alcohol is one of the hardest drugs to quit and withdrawal symptoms (the dreaded “DTs” or delirium tremens) can be severe. Dependence strong enough to induce the DTs will usually take years of steady drinking to develop, but once physically dependent a person who stops drinking suddenly may suffer withdrawal symptoms serious enough to cause death.
  • Benzodiazepine sedatives – Benzos are in the same class of drugs as alcohol and can also produce severe withdrawal symptoms, however, dependence on benzos can occur in as short a time as a few weeks of regular use, even at therapeutic doses. Recreational abusers may be physically dependent and suffer severe and dangerous withdrawal symptoms that may be fatal. Detox from benzos should always be conducted under medical supervision with no exceptions.
  • Opiates/opioids – Opiates like heroin and opioid painkillers like Lortab, Percocet and OxyContin all produce physical dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms, which are often compared to a severe case of the flu but are not fatal. Nonetheless medical and psychological complications can develop during detox, and detoxing under medical supervision is a very good idea.

Addiction Issues and Co-Occurring Disorders

Whether or not your drug of choice produces physical dependence, substance abuse and addiction (including addiction to behaviors such as gambling, sex or even shopping) almost invariably indicates deeper rooted issues that you are coping with by self-medicating. There are a huge number of issues that can contribute to a substance abuse problem, including stress, anxiety, depression, the effects of trauma or abuse and a multitude of mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders, to name but a few. It is likely that there is an issue or issues that have contributed to your addiction, and that the addiction is then compounding the effects of the underlying issue. If you or a loved one in Kansas City is struggling with substance abuse, you should seek professional treatment immediately.

The Importance of Integrated Addiction Treatment

Treating addiction without addressing the underlying issues leaves a person vulnerable to relapse once the related issues invariably resurface. Receiving integrated treatment for addiction and any related co-occurring disorders is much more effective in producing lasting results, and can also produce improvements in many other areas of the patient’s life. For help finding addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one in Kansas City, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline.

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