chemical dependency addiction treatment

What Is Chemical Dependency?

SoCal Detox
SoCal Detox

SoCal Detox editorial contributors include writers, editors, mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals who are trained to create credible and authoritative health information that is accurate, informative, and easy to understand.

All the way up to the middle of the 20th century, the stigma attached to drug or alcohol addiction was attributed to a lack of strength or will. A person with an addiction was seen as weak and corruptible because they couldn’t quit, or didn’t want to. However, the American Medical Association officially recognized alcohol addiction as a disease in l956 (with other addictions added in 1987). This was the first step in helping people understand the complex nature of substance use disorder and how to effectively manage and overcome it.

Chemical dependency is an important part of the equation of understanding the nature of addiction as a disease.

Addiction Analogy

There is a reason you are not supposed to feed wild animals. Why? Because once a squirrel or raccoon gets used to receiving food in that manner, they begin to look for and expect it. Eventually, they are in a situation where their only food source is from humans. And should they be in a situation where no people are around, they would lack the skills needed to attain food for themselves. They become dependent on people for survival.

When a person introduces drugs or alcohol (substances) into their system, something similar happens. The substances deliver chemicals that the body needs. Our bodies make these chemicals naturally. However, over time, a person’s body will slow the production of these chemicals, because the drugs and alcohol are delivering them. Once this happens, if the substances were ever taken away, the chemicals would also be gone. … If you have been addicted to drugs or alcohol for a period of time, your body now actually needs those things to survive. It is dependent on them. This is one reason quitting “cold turkey” is dangerous.

Psychological Dependence

But there is more. Physical dependence is bad enough, and correcting that aspect of recovery is pivotal. However, drug dependence and addiction is also a psychological issue. There is no clear-cut answer as to who or why a person develops Substance Use Disorder, but generally speaking, a person often develops an addiction to drugs or alcohol as a response to a variety of personal psychological needs. The combination of psychological and physical dependency make drug and alcohol addiction particularly difficult to overcome.

Am I Dependent?

There are a couple of factors that come into play if you believe you or someone you love has a chemical dependency. First is that people with this disease will continue to use drugs or alcohol despite the clear negative effects in their lives. Continued use might cause damage to a person’s body, family, employment, finances, and more. Yet they still use the substance. Beyond that, here are a few signs to look for if you are still not sure.

  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about drugs or alcohol and how to get ahold of them?
  • Have you built up a tolerance so that you need to take more in order to get high?
  • Do you experience withdrawals when you have not used for a period of time?
  • Do you take a lot of time to recover from the use of your drugs/alcohol?
  • Have you withdrawn from social and recreational activities?

Here is a more exhaustive self-assessment test for alcohol addiction.

How to Defeat Chemical Dependency

Fighting chemical dependency on your own with willpower is close to impossible. The reason for this is that it goes beyond simply what a person wants. Most chemically dependent people do not want to destroy their lives. They often want to stop using (this might be obvious or a deeper understanding). But they simply cannot do it. In fact, the idea of quitting seems impossible.

As well, because of the physical dependency, a person looking to stop using will experience withdrawals which can be painful and even life-threatening. This is why a detox is necessary for almost every addiction recovery plan. At a monitored detox, individuals are able to find comfort, safety, and guidance during the first, crucial step to lasting recovery.

Ultimately the most effective way to break a chemical dependence is by finding a high-quality treatment center and following a recovery plan designed specifically for you. This plan will probably include a monitored detox and flow into at least 30 days of residential treatment.

Freedom From Addiction

At SoCal Detox in San Clemente, California, we specialize helping people take the first step of recovery in a way that will set them up for success in managing their disease. Recovery is possible. Please call us today; we would be glad to discuss your unique situation and see what is the best option for you or your loved one in finding recovery from addiction: 888-590-0777.

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