1. What is addiction? You mean, drink and drugs, right?
You can become addicted to almost anything – alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, football, slots, porn, masturbation, work, computer games, exercise, sugar, shopping. The addiction list goes on. Something fun that gets you buzzing in small doses can become dangerous in big doses, leading to physical and mental health problems.
Many people think that addiction is the core problem. However, addiction and substance abuse disorders are often a temporary method to self sooth and cope with other issues, which often need to be addressed through counselling or therapy.
2. At what point does something become an addiction? Do I really need alcohol rehab, I can go for weeks without touching a drop?
That doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a problem. According to research, there is a fine line between habit and addiction, based on factors such as time spent engaging in the behaviour, chemical reactions in the brain and whether or not you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop.
Broadly there are two types of addicts:
- The “topper-upper” who needs a fix regularly.
- The “regular binge user” who gets blasted every so often.
Every habit, from exercising to binge drinking to eating a specific type of food, begins with something known as the “habit loop.” This starts with a certain trigger which leads to an action, when the action is repeated it becomes a habit. This habit can create a reward sensation in the brain.
Addiction, however, occurs when you are no longer able to function without the pleasurable activity or substance. According to the Partnership For Drug-Free kids, about 23.5 million people in the US, are said to have experienced some form of addiction. In South Africa, 1 in every 15 people are said to have a drug problem. According to an article published in Parent 24, South Africa’s drug consumption among youth is twice the world norm.
If you feel that your favourite habit has become an addiction, there is hope. Research has suggested that it takes 21 days to break a habit. Depending on the reasons it became a habit in the first place, the neuropeptide connections in the brain that reinforce the habit can take longer to break. For stronger addictions, such as alcohol and drug addictions, patients may need to identify any underlying causes first, and then rehabilitation may help to rewire the brain and break the addiction.
3. What are the signs and symptoms of addiction?
Symptoms of addiction can include depression, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations.
It will begin to affect your work, your relationships and your life. Addictions mask health problems such as depression. Choosing to be high or drunk all the time may suggest you’re hiding something from yourself. Coming off your chosen high may allow you to see what needs to be done. If you’re concerned, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you think about [your addictive activity] when you are doing something else and look forward to it?
- Do you feel you need more of [your addictive activity] each time to get the same enjoyment?
- Have you made efforts to cut back on [your addictive activity]
- Do you do [your addictive activity] for longer than intended?
- Have you put [your addictive activity] before more important things in life like relationships or work?
- Have you lied to others about your involvement with [your addictive activity]?
- Do you use [your addictive activity] as a way of escaping from problems or as a way to avoid feelings of guilt, anxiety or depression?
If you answer yes to some of these, stop [your addictive activity] for a month. If that is too difficult then you have a problem and may need support.
4. What support is out there for people struggling with Addiction? How do I pick the right alcohol rehab or addiction treatment?
When considering the right type of addiction rehab for addressing a challenge like alcoholism or drugs or any other disorder, an early question should be to determine if inpatient or outpatient treatment is the best fit for you? Learning as much as you can about these kinds of addiction treatment approaches can help make the decision to enter and, ultimately, the transition into alcohol rehab easier.
Inpatient or residential addiction treatment facilities provide immersive addiction treatment where patients live on-site 24 hours a day, allowing them to focus solely on their recovery during that time.1 Inpatient treatment is commonly sought by those with relatively severe addictions and addiction-related issues: however, such a treatment setting can be highly effective for people in many different situations.
Outpatient treatment options also exist for those who prefer to live at home while attending substance abuse treatment sessions for several days a week at the rehab facility.1
Some valuable questions to ask when choosing an Addiction Treatment Programme or Facility:
- Do they have a proven track record (how many years have they been successfully helping people recover from addiction?)
- Are they licenced and registered with the Department of Health and Department of Social Development of that country?
- Do they have an expert team, experienced, effective and caring enough to guide you on the road to recovery?
- Do they have a medical detox unit (particularly for alcohol and drug addiction)?
- Do they take a holistic approach to addiction, including all influences on your recovery (e.g. your family, your work, your social relationships?)
- Are they a registered hospital with your country’s hospital network?
- Are they covered by health insurance or Medical Aid?
5. Do Medical Aid or Health Insurance pay for Addiction Rehab Treatment?
A big barrier to rehabilitation programmes is the cost. Many addiction treatment and Cape Town rehab centres work with most medical aids to cover drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment. This means you have access to the best care, without the prohibitive cost. What’s more, many addiction and alcohol rehabs take care of all the administration and paperwork so you don’t have to…