Substance Abuse

Written by Christa Gatewood
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For those who have never been addicted to anything, substance abuse can be a confusing subject. It seems counter-intuitive that someone would persist in drug and alcohol abuse when it causes so many negative consequences in that person's life. The key to understanding substance abuse is knowing how it starts and why it persists.

Most people begin using drugs and alcohol as a way to temporarily escape a problem of some kind. Using the substance makes them feel better at the time and they come to associate those good feelings with the substance. Over time, when they want to feel better, they will use this same substance. The drugs or alcohol will become valuable to them as a means of feeling good. As drugs and alcohol are physiologically addictive, with continued use, the person will lose control. Chemical dependency is the result.

Once chemical dependency has set in, the initial problem that was bothering the addict becomes secondary. In order to prevent the withdrawal symptoms that are caused by quitting, an addict will rationalize continuing the substance abuse. They are caught in a descending spiral. Ironically, by this point the drugs or alcohol are not making them feel euphoric anymore because their bodies have built up a tolerance. Still, they are needed because their bodies will not function without them.

Turning the Tide on Substance Abuse

The only way to reverse this descending spiral is to seek treatment. You have to get clean in order to cure the physical dependency. You have to cure the physical dependency before you can do anything else. Without help drug and alcohol addiction will take over your life and lead to ruin. You don't have to wait until you or your loved one hits "rock bottom." Sometimes you can prevent it from getting that far.

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