Addiction is a difficult, deeply complicated illness with layers of sensitivity. Addiction manifests differently in every person, but knowing the warning signs of addiction can help you to recognize when a loved one could be living with addiction. This means that you might notice that they have a disheveled appearance, or that their mood has become volatile, or that they take longer to accomplish anything, sometimes missing deadlines and appointments. There are many other symptoms and signs of addiction, all of them a cry for help.

Responding to the cry solely with drug-based therapy is always a mistake: the causes of addiction are many, and though it begins with a chance encounter with a controlled substance, it can quickly become more than enough to cause you to lose your job, your friends, and some of your family members. Though medications given in rehab facilities and emergency clinics are powerful, the urge to use is even more powerful. That urge is more powerful than the drug treatments alone, which is the reason that, so often, people of limited means who are living with addiction can have such a difficult time in rehab. The necessary psychological care that should exist at every facility isn’t always available, and sometimes, it can be a matter of cost. It is extremely important that you take the time to research recovery centers, and speak to as many staff, in person, as you can. There are few more effective ways of finding a treatment center that is both reputable, and a good fit for those who are accepted to the program.

The Urge

mental illness and addictionThe most visible part of addiction is, of course, the escalated use of the drugs in and of itself. The use of these drugs, of course, starts small, and builds on top of itself until a situation gets out of control. Those lucky enough to be able to stop themselves before losing control can always enter a 12-step program, or participate in outpatient treatment programs. Both of these programs provide excellent opportunities to connect to others living with the disease of addiction, and also to connect to compassionate caregivers that can help an addicted person. Recognizing the urge alone, though, can be part of the reason that some treatment programs aren’t as effective as others. While treating the urges is necessary in the fight, the psychological component of the war on addiction cannot be missed. Without proper mental health treatment, addiction treatment cannot be effective.

The actual causes of addictions are usually hidden in a past pain – be it a physical pain, like gunshot wounds, or sexual assault, or whether they’re verbally abused or indoctrinated, trauma can do incredibly damaging things to a person’s mental health. Flashbacks of traumatic events and periods of stress can cause a person to seek the best relief that they can, and many people turn to drugs and alcohol. This type of self-medication is a common way that people become addicted to drugs and alcohol. It is important to note that there are personalities that are also vulnerable to addiction, and the list includes perpetual thrill-seekers. It is also possible that a person can be born with a genetic disposition for addiction. Many people have a family history of alcoholism. Like any other disease, having a number of blood relatives with the same or similar conditions increases a person’s risk of developing the disease. The same absolutely applies to drug addiction, too – people whose parents and grandparents abused their prescriptions are often vulnerable to becoming addicted themselves.

Another group of people who are very vulnerable to addiction are people living with mental illness. Mental illness can absolutely be triggered by a traumatic event, or a series of traumatic events. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder can all be the source of a devastating addiction, and this is the reason that merely treating the urges to use is never enough – a thorough and productive diagnosis must include plenty of time spent evaluating the mental and emotional health of each patient, and getting to the source of the problem. While the other risk factors – family history, self-medication, or thrill-seeking – are absolutely dangerous, mental illness as a major contributing factor to addiction is one of the most powerful aggressors against a person’s long-term sobriety.

The Solution

The importance of treating mental illness cannot be understated. Even outside of the context of drug and alcohol addiction, treating mental illness, and addressing trauma, are the key points of overcoming addiction. While there is no one that can say that every case of addiction is rooted in the same kind of pain, the important part to remember is that it is the pain, not the patient, that is the enemy. In the rehab industry, therapists and counselors often have a full caseload of people living with addiction whom they are trying to help, and they are the first step to fully-addressing the root source of addiction in any group of people. While all of this is known, this doesn’t guarantee that every single rehabilitation clinic will have the necessary people with the necessary experience to address the issues at hand. This contributes, of course, to some of the negative stereotypes of rehab, and rumors of its lack of effectiveness.

Without making sure that you do your own research, and that you’re getting the best care that you can afford, you run the risk of ineffective treatment that you may not even be able to finish.  Doing your own research is important not only for finding a good program fit, but also because of the human element of compatibility. Connecting face-to-face with counselors, nurses, and other people in the program is the first indicator of whether or not a facility will be a fit for a patient.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.