Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.

It’s Never Too Late to Seek Help
Drug and alcohol abuse is a common problem today. Just like any addiction, its a problem that you cannot solve on your own. While treatment centers can provide
solutions. But you must want to help yourself.

Fighting addiction is hard, but the effects are worse. It has negative impact to your physical and mental well-being. More than that, it also affects your family and friends, hurting the people you love and care for the most.

The good news is that its never too late. Once you admit you have a problem, you are on your way to recovery. You addiction can and will be beaten.

What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop.

The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs including alcohol. But over time, a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised. Seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function. Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior.

Drug addiction can be treated but it’s not simple. Because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.

Addiction treatment must help the person do the following:
stop using drugs
stay drug-free
be productive in the family, at work, and in society
Principles of Effective Treatment
Based on scientific research since the mid-1970s, the following key principles should form the basis of any effective treatment program:

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.No single treatment is right for everyone.

People need to have quick access to treatment.
Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just his or her drug use.
Staying in treatment long enough is critical.
Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.
Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.
Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.
Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.
Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.
Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.
Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.
Treatment programs should test patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as teach them about steps they can take to reduce their risk of these illnesses.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Families
1) Jealousy: You can grow jealous of your friends, your partner,…
2) Conflict with Partner: You may have arguments, get/give the “silent treatment”…
3) Conflict with Children: You may argue with your children and they may disregard your authority…
4) Conflict over Money: You may struggle economically because…

Help for the family and loved ones:
Is Al-Anon for families of drug addicts?
For over 50 years, Al-Anon (which includes Al-ateen for younger members) has been offering hope and help to families and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts. It is estimated that each addict/alcoholic affects the lives of at least four other people… alcoholism is truly a family disease. No matter what relationship you have with an alcoholic, whether they are still drinking or not, all who have been affected by someone else’s drinking can find solutions that lead to serenity in the fellowship.

How can it help me? Many who come are in despair, feeling hopeless, unable to believe that things can ever change. We want our lives to be different, but nothing we have done has brought about change. We all come to meetings because we want and need help. Members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.

Friends and family members often feel helpless, as they watch someone they care about, someone they love, struggle with alcohol or some other substance. They don’t know what to do and where to go for answers. They feel alone and isolated. It’s an organization dedicated to those people, friends who are there to help family members through the though times and provide support. Those family members do not have to be alone. They can have peace of mind.

How do I find a meeting?
It may be listed in the white pages of your local telephone directory. For meeting information in Canada, the US, and Puerto Rico you can call 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm ET.

Personal note: I was married to an alcoholic for over 20 years. He chose to get help early on in our marriage. He went into treatment for a short stint and chose to remain sober until he passed away. He had 25 years of sobriety. Meanwhile, I joined Alanon and attended for 16 years. We went to meetings together. After all it is a family disease. Alanon saved my life, marriage and sanity. Recovery on both sides is not to be taken lightly. I have tools that I learned and use in my everyday life. It becomes a part of you and can make the best “you” that you can possibly be.