Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Substance Abuse: What
It Is and How to Quit
Why do people use alcohol and drugs?
Basically people use substances such as alcohol
and drugs because they like the way the substances make them feel. Pleasure is a
powerful force. If you do something that gives you pleasure, the brain is wired
in such a way that you will probably want to do it again. All drugs that are
addicting can activate and affect the brain’s pleasure circuit.
What is addiction?
Addiction is a disease that affects your brain
and behavior. When you become addicted to alcohol or drugs, your brain actually
changes in certain ways. Someone who is addicted uses drugs without regard to
the consequences, such as problems with health, money, relationships and
performance at work or at school.
What drugs can cause addiction?
People can become addicted to illegal drugs and
to drugs that doctors prescribe. People can also become addicted to things they
may not think of as drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes.
Aren’t prescription drugs
When prescription drugs are taken the right way,
there is much less chance of becoming addicted to them. But prescription drugs
can be dangerous if they are abused (for example, taking too much or taking them
when they’re not needed).
How do I know if I have a problem?
You have a problem with drugs or alcohol if you
continue to use them even when they cause problems with your health, money, work
or school, or with your relationships. You may have a problem if you have
developed a tolerance to drugs or alcohol -- meaning you need to use more and
more to get the same effect.
Can addiction be treated?
Yes, but addiction is a chronic (going on for a
long time), relapsing disease. It may take a number of attempts before you can
remain free of drugs or alcohol.
What treatments are available?
Treatment can include counseling, medication, or
both. Your doctor will help you find the treatment that is right for you.
How can I quit abusing drugs or
The first step in breaking addiction is to
understand that you can take control of what you do. You can’t control all
the things that happen in your life or most of what other people do, but you do
have control over how you react. So use it. The following are the next steps to
breaking your addiction:
- Commit to quitting. Once you decide to quit, make
a plan to be sure that you really do it.
- Get help from your doctor. Your doctor can give
you support and help you find a treatment program that meets your needs. Your
doctor can also treat withdrawal symptoms and other problems that you may have
as you recover from your addiction.
- Get support. Ask your family and friends for
support. You can also contact one of the organizations listed below. These
groups can give you the tools and support you need to break your addiction and
move on with your life.