Experiencing an addiction can be incredibly debilitating physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can also negatively impact your relationships, as well as career. Many individuals who identify as having an addiction may experience a comorbid mental health disorder as well, further complicating the dependency on the substance of choice.
Signs of Addiction
Someone who has an addiction will continue to use an external substance despite the negative consequences associated with it in order to trigger the reward system in the brain. Individuals who use a substance may do so to meet unmet emotional needs, often stemmed from unhealthy early childhood attachments. Others will also use during times of extreme stress or discomfort, and eventually to remove unpleasant withdrawal symptoms once a physical dependency becomes established. Signs of addiction include isolating oneself, prioritizing the substance above family and friends, possible lying and stealing so the substance can be purchased, loss of job, risky behavior, and symptoms of mental health disorders.
What Happens During Withdrawal
During a withdrawal, individuals experience a huge crash in the feel-good high or euphoria they were receiving from their substance of choice. Because the brain grows accustomed to the foreign substance being introduced, when it is removed, many will experience a huge low in terms of mood, have a change in appetite and sleep, and experience gastrointestinal issues and other physical signs of discomfort. It is always best to seek medical and/or psychological treatment during the withdrawal period so you can be monitored appropriately. For some substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines, the withdrawal period can lead to death if not properly monitored by a trained professional.
Comorbid Mental Health Disorders
Many people experience comorbid mental health disorders while being addicted to a substance. Depression, anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are fairly common comorbid diagnoses that co-occur. The uncomfortable symptoms associated with these mental health disorders can lead to self-medication and eventually an addiction.
Although it may feel impossible to work through an addiction, there are a ton of amazing treatment options depending on your needs and specific substance of choice. Be sure to find a few treatment options and make sure that it is the best fit for you. Some facilities prefer to focus on the here and now, and although that may seem appealing, many of those who turn to substances tend to do better recovery wise in holistic treatment centers that focus on the core of the addiction rather than pushing it aside.