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  • All kinds of addictions

    Addiction is a growing problem.

    Addiction is defined as the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. 2022 has seen an upward trend of drug addiction continue. Addiction is a chronic disease that causes changes in brain chemistry and behavior. The brain becomes dependent on drugs, alcohol, or something else which leads to compulsive behaviors. Approximately 21 million people have a substance use disorder. Addiction is common among many individuals and affects them all differently. Furthermore, substance use affects not only the user but the entire family.

    Life is about a healthy balance and things in moderation. It can be easy to fall into bad habits when you’re stressed out, tired, hungry, lonely, bored, depressed, anxious, angry, etc. Understanding this concept can help you understand why some people become addicted to substances such as alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, prescription medications, etc. The stages of addiction are widely recognized by researchers and clinicians alike.

    The four stages of addiction:

    • Addictions highlightedExperimentation – Is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) as the voluntary use of substances without any negative social or legal consequence. For many, experimentation may only happen once or several times as an enjoyable activity or coping mechanism. For some, experimentation can begin to move into the next phase of addiction if it becomes a regular habit.
    •  Regular use – Some people can start using drugs regularly without becoming dependent or addicted. They may not develop any physical withdrawal symptoms if they decide to quit. However, these people will probably experience increased risks for unsafe behavior, including drinking and/or drugged drivers, and symptoms of mental health problems.
    • High-risk use – The line between regular usage and high-risk use/abuse is a very thin one. However, it’s usually considered when someone continues using a substance despite having negative effects on their life, such as social and legal consequences. What began as a way for people to temporarily get away from their problems can quickly turn into something much worse than they could ever imagine. These include cravings, preoccupation with using the substance, and various physical and mental health issues.
    •   Addiction – Is characterized by physical dependency, withdrawal symptoms, and compulsive use of drugs despite severe negative effects on one’s life. Most likely causing damage to their relationships, physical and mental well-being, financial stability, job safety, and criminal records.

    A chemical reaction in the body.

    Chemical reaction in brainUsing drugs and alcohol create a feeling of intense pleasure. The substances create a pleasurable surge of dopamine in the brain and then the problems may start. Most people think of drugs and alcohol when they hear the word addiction. However, people can become addicted to “good” things too. Some examples are work, exercise, shopping, sex, and video gaming. You get the picture. At the end of the day, no addiction is good!

    Some things that can make a person become an addict include genetics, socioeconomic status, pre-existing mental health conditions, and environmental influences. You are more than your addiction, and you can get well!

    Here are some tips for beating addictions:

    • Meditation – helps people who suffer from addictions by clearing their minds and allowing them to focus on what they need to do. It also has the added benefit of reducing stress and anxiety.
    • Exercise – helps addicts feel better about themselves and their lives. There is the release of endorphins which makes them happy. Exercise also increases blood flow to the brain and releases serotonin, which reduces depression.
    • Offering help to others –  When people offer their time, energy, and resources to those around them, they gain self-respect and confidence. They learn how to be responsible and take care of themselves.
    • Counseling – Addicts who seek out counseling benefit from having someone to talk to about their struggles. A counselor can provide them with emotional and practical assistance so that they can better cope with life’s challenges.
    • Medication – Taking medications for those in recovery specifically helps them to function normally while they’re still managing their addictions. Substances such as Suboxone and Methadone allow people who use them to live normally.
    • Rehabilitation – Addicts who go to rehabilitation benefit from being surrounded by other recovering people. This allows them to share experiences and support each other in their recovery process. Rehabilitation centers have programs designed to help them begin recovery and begin to lead productive lives.
    • Recovery groups such as AA or NA, Celebrate Recovery, and church. People who attend addiction treatment programs often feel better when they’re surrounded by others who understand their situation. These programs are usually based on 12-step philosophies and encourage participants to remain sober.

    An addict IS NOT a bad person!

    Lady getting help for addictionContrary to many people’s opinion, the addict is not a bad person although they may have made some bad choices.  Addiction is a disease just like say heart disease. Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding addiction, and often it is associated with criminals and other negative things. However, it is important to remember that an addict can be anyone from any walk of life.

    Professional mental health counselors work hard to help remove this stigma and help clients who suffer from addiction through the path to recovery. They listen closely to personal stories and offer advice and support on how to best deal emotionally with their addictions. They help those recovering with coping mechanisms for dealing with the emotions associated with their addictions.

    Limited resources in Okaloosa and Walton Counties.

    In our immediate area of both Okaloosa and Walton Counties, the resources for addicts are few and far between. With this being said, I believe that each and every one of us has a responsibility to help anyone who wants to recover. We need to educate ourselves about what addiction really is and we need to take action to help those who struggle with this disease.

     Some interesting facts about addiction:Get Your Facts Straight

    • Alcohol is the most widely abused drug
    • 13 is the average age children experiment with drugs
    • Over 50 percent of people experience motor vehicle accidents involving drugs or alcohol
    • 50 percent of suicides and violent crimes involve drugs and alcohol
    • 80 percent of domestic violence calls are related to drugs and alcohol
    • 60 percent of poor work performance can be tied back to drugs and alcohol

    Addiction is treatable.

    Addiction is a highly treatable disorder. Most people in addiction recovery can go on to rejoin society and contribute to it in meaningful ways. A recent study showed that 1 in 10 US adults have overcome an addiction which shows that addiction recovery is not only possible but common. The hope is that we all will do our part to make a difference in the lives of those who suffer from addiction!

    Get support from a Mental Health Professional

    Get help new heights logo phoneThe staff at New Heights Counseling & Consulting, LLC wants you to know that help is available and you’re not alone. Call us at (850) 757-1552 to set up an appointment with one of the professionals who specializes in helping people overcome addictive behaviors. Check out our staff bios on our website. We’re here to support you through any stage of your recovery. You can take full control of your treatment plan by choosing an individualized approach that works best for you.

    Additional Resources:

    SAMHSA’s National Helpline

    Shatter Proof Addiction Resources

    National Institute on Drug Abuse

    Other Mental Health Services offered at New Heights Counseling

    We offer helpAt New Heights Counseling, we provide individual counseling for a wide variety of mental health and behavioral addictions and mental disorders. Our services are for children, adolescents, and adults and we offer in-person sessions at our Fort Walton Beach, FL location and online therapy for the state of Florida.

    We are located on the 2nd floor of WorkSpace Suites at 1992 Lewis Turner Blvd, Suite 1057, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547. Get directions here Google Maps or visit our office location webpage. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM. Evenings/Weekends by appointments. Call (850)757-1552.

    About the author:

    Becky-Patterson-headshot-01Becky is a counselor at New Heights Counseling where she is passionate about helping people and wants them to know they are not alone. She is a Pre-Licensed Registered Clinical Social Worker Intern. Becky finds fulfillment in assisting people to find the solutions they need to live their best lives. She has been working with people for almost 10 years, helping them navigate through difficult situations. Becky is empathetic and compassionate while being solution-oriented and authentic in her communications. Becky helps people feel safe and comfortable exploring their emotions and thoughts without judgment or blame. She guides them through their healing process by helping them understand themselves better. Becky believes that everyone deserves to be heard and their stories deserve to be shared. She is an outspoken supporter of people struggling with mental illness.

    Becky is committed to providing excellent client care and services to Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville, Destin, and surrounding communities.