Are you a regular drug user who has tried to stop, but can’t give up the habit? Do you drink alcohol even though it makes you anxious or depressed? Has substance abuse isolated you from your loved ones? Chemical addiction is a complex physical and psychological condition in which a person cannot control his or her use of potentially harmful substances. This is a serious, sometimes fatal, condition that alters brain chemistry, and requires both medical and psychological intervention.
The term ‘chemical dependency’ normally refers to drug addiction and alcoholism. Some of the most common drug addictions include stimulants (for example, cocaine and amphetamines) and opiates (such as heroin, morphine, and methadone). Though there are fewer stigmas associated with alcohol abuse, serious alcoholic dependency can be just as lethal as drug addiction. Persons who abuse and depend on drugs and/or alcohol are using these substances to self-medicate for deeper problems. Overcoming the physical addiction begins with addressing the underlying psychological issues which led to developing the dependency.
Breaking the cycle of chemical dependency can be extremely difficult, but recovering from your addiction will change your life and restore you to health and freedom. Counseling is an integral part of addiction recovery because it helps to get at the underlying issues that led to dependency in the first place. In the safe, productive space of a counseling room, you can explore the deeper issues which drove you to substance abuse, and a professional counselor can help you discern the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and biological factors of your addiction.
It is no secret that addiction has a profound effect on relationships. Shame, paranoia, and depression can all be consequences of chemical abuse, and these can drive an addict to isolate themselves from others. It is also not uncommon for addicts to form codependent relationships with others. In relationships where one person suffers from chemical dependency, the codependent partner can easily become the addict’s enabler.
For many, many people across the globe, chemical dependency is an incredibly challenging obstacle standing in the way of leading a fulfilling life. Here in the Seattle area, we are seeing the increased devastation and pervasive effect that the opiate crisis is having on tens of thousands of our neighbors.
But how has this problem become so large, especially amongst young adults? These are the generations that grew up with programs like D.A.R.E. and education about drugs and alcohol provided in school, yet on the whole, we haven’t seen any societal shifts towards reducing the number of people suffering from addiction.
For those suffering from addiction, it can feel like a weight holding you back from achieving your goals. It’s like being in a boat, heading the direction you want to go, but there’s an anchor holding you down.
It might have been at first comforting to be in port. It kept you from the rocky seas and troubles that could be out there. However, as you look around, you see that the dock is catching fire, and even though you can see the devastation happening, you are now unable to leave. That anchor is heavy and it keeps tugging and pulling you back to the same place. You see the danger in staying, but it feels almost impossible to pull yourself away.
Dealing with chemical dependency is similar. Perhaps the drugs or alcohol started out as a...Read More
Do you think you or someone you love is an addict and/or alcoholic? Are you curious what kind of chemical dependency programs are available? Please continue to read to find out.
First of all, it is important to know that chemical dependency is a disease that is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition (DSM-5). There are people who still question that. This is a disease where a person becomes chemically dependent on a substance: drugs and/or alcohol.
As the disease progresses, the individual struggling continues to use substances even when they start to have negative consequences. These consequences can be many things, including: significant conflict in relationships, losing relationships, financial damage, physical issues like liver damage, Hepatitis C and many other medical concerns, including death.
People who become addicts are not always the stereotypical homeless person. They can be men, women, wealthy, poor, white, black . . . this disease can happen to anybody. In most cases, the individual wants to stop using substances or at least stop the negative consequences but cannot manage to do that on their own.
An addict will try many different efforts to try to “control” the use. These efforts could be: not using during work hours, only using on weekends, stopping after using a certain amount, not using when the kids are home, or switching substances.
There are so many ways an addict is going to try...Read More
I was recently speaking at an event for marriage and family therapy students and emerging professionals. It was the kind of event where students could meet others in the field who have gone in a variety of different directions and ask any questions they might have.
Some students asked about the various job opportunities available, some about how to handle the emotional stress. One question directed towards me, though, stood out. As I had been hosting the event, I previously introduced myself multiple times and touched on my own line of work. Besides working at Seattle Christian Counseling, I work in a community mental health setting, working mostly with people with substance abuse issues. The question brought to me inquired about my language, “people with substance abuse issues.”
“I noticed you never said you work with alcoholics or addicts. Why is that? Is there something that’s changing about the language in the field?” the current student asked me.
See, she is currently a chemical dependency professional branching out into the marriage and family therapy field. Her experience has been working with addicts and alcoholics, and that’s how she has always referred to the people with whom she worked.
She asked me about the use of my “person first” language, which cued me off that she already had some further understanding about where I was coming from. I went on to explain that whether for chemical dependency issues, or for mental health issues (another topic for...Read More