Once an addiction is realized, there comes detoxification. Once detox and the withdrawals therein are over with, there comes the lifelong road of recovery. Recovery takes an elaborate array of forms. The 12-step recovery format, started with Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, has become the most popular, adapted to many different kinds of addictions such as narcotics, opiates, overeating, marijuana, porn, video gaming, smoking cigarettes, and so on.
The category of opiates, or opioids, encompasses many different substances that are colloquially known to society. These include painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, and Dilaudid, then substances like heroin, morphine, methadone, and codeine.
Methadone itself is used as an opiate recovery treatment. It is taken when someone is coming off of a heavy opiate addiction. Used in place of the substance that is being detoxed off of, usually heroin, methadone is a milder and longer acting opiate that lacks the euphoric high upon usage. Eventually, methadone itself is weaned off of, leaving the person addiction free to opiates.
Opiates fall under the category of narcotics, and thus someone who has detoxed from their opiate addiction should consider seeking the help of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) 12-step meetings.
Prescription Drug Recovery
The addiction rate to prescription drugs has risen sharply in the modern age, leaving many people unaware they are addicted. Prescription drug addiction is elusive because it is masked by the ailment that the drugs are in the process of fixing. The ailment that is usually being remedied is pain, and thus most prescription drug addictions are to painkillers like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Dilaudid.
Addiction to painkillers requires the same kind of detoxification process as any other opiates. Inpatient treatment is recommended because of the horrific withdrawals that come about from the body being addicted to opiates. Certain patients have described the withdrawal process as one that would surely kill them. Typically, replacement opiates such as Clonidine or Methadone are used to “take place” of the opiates that are being abused. What these replacement drugs do is act upon the opiate receptors in the brain to make the body believe it is getting what it needs, but they are milder and longer acting, reducing the withdrawals down to a very nullified level and leaving out the high that is associated with using regular opiates.
Painkillers and most other prescription drugs that are addictive also fall under the category of narcotics. Once someone has recovered from the withdrawals of getting off of opiate painkiller medications, it is recommended that they begin to attend regular 12-step Narcotics Anonymous meetings in order to continue their recovery and ensure that relapse does not occur.
Despite common thinking, marijuana can be a very psychologically addictive drug that leaves someone mentally and physically dull compared to who they were before profuse usage. Marijuana has a chemical in it known as THC which is what does the work in getting high.
Once someone gets high, everything slows down and sensory experiences become heightened. Music, visual stimuli such as art and movies, eating, sexual feelings, and many other external forces become more acute and intense. Concentration and focus also increase, making things more intricate and interesting. This also gives rise to the perception that time has slowed down, making things seem to take much longer than they actually are.
Over time, normal interaction with these things without the presence of marijuana seem less interesting and more dull compared to what they were when high. As a result of this, a psychological dependence upon marijuana can form.
After long, heavy usage of marijuana in any form, be it smoked or ingested, certain obvious side effects begin to become more and more apparent. The user begins to lose their reaction time in things like conversation or when driving. They can forget what they were talking about halfway through a sentence or get easily confused by basic conversation. Stuttering can also begin to happen as well.
Since marijuana also acts upon the brains functions that regulate diet, users typically become very hungry after usage, and so eat a lot (otherwise known as getting “the munchies”) which can lead to drastic weight gain.
There are a number of other effects that marijuana has on the body, especially when it comes to young people whom are still developing physically, but they won’t be gone into here. It is recommended that this article be read to seek further information.
Once someone quits using marijuana, there are a series of mental and sometimes physical withdrawals that can occur. First off, marijuana is often used to stem feelings of depression or anxiety, so such feelings will return when someone quits using marijuana. Sometimes someone can get acute headaches and abdominal cramps that were not present beforehand. Sleep can be disrupted, leading to insomnia and even more anxiety and/or depression. Just like any other substance being gotten off of, like smoking cigarettes or drinking, a severe craving for marijuana not but a few days after quitting can arise. And finally, marijuana withdrawals can also include acute mood swings.
The withdrawal symptoms are serious enough in that they drive someone to simply go back to using marijuana in order to get rid of all the discomfort from coming off of marijuana. This is why marijuana was included in this article: it is serious enough to be considered a substance that requires recovery after detox and withdrawals.
Marijuana has its own 12-step recovery, simply: Marijuana Anonymous, or MA. MA meetings are becoming more and more common in todays world and one could find one rather easily, especially in a metropolitan area.
Marijuana causes problems in ones life. Drug testing is becoming more common at places of employment and THC is very easy to find. The personal effects of using too much marijuana are also apparent. If someones livelihood and quality of life are becoming affected by overuse of marijuana, then recovery is necessary. It is also readily available.
Crystal Meth Recovery
Going back into the more extreme realms of recovery, methamphetamine, or crystal meth, addiction has made a serious and sharp rise across the United States, and other parts of the Western world, in recent times. Methamphetamine addiction is acute and highly destructive, leaving the user mentally and physically incapacitated, as well as deformed.
Meth destroys the body in a variety of horrific ways, both visually and internally. Once someone begins using meth prolifically, damage to the skin, area of usage (i.e. if it is smoked, then the mouth and lungs. If it is injected, the area of injection, like the arm, and so on) becomes highly damaged. Abscesses can form, like with someone who is a heroin user, teeth can rot away and fall out, skin becomes opaque and covered in sores, etc. The immune system also takes a strong hit, leaving the user very susceptible to infections and disease.
Meth withdrawals are not life-threatening nor are they as severe as opiate withdrawals. But, like all other substance detox, they are not pleasant and should be taken seriously, for the urge to use again order to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms is very high. Assistance from a detox center is recommended, either inpatient or outpatient, because one cannot tackle with pain of withdrawals alone.
Crystal meth also has its very own 12-step recovery program. Attending Crystal Meth Anonymous, or CMA, meetings on a regular basis as well as seeking help from professional addiction counselors should ensure that one can remain meth-free for the rest of their lives.
Cocaine has been used prolifically within the United States for many years now, and since its insurgence into society in the late 1800s it has ebbed and flowed in popularity, seeing its last large resurgence in the 1980s.
Cocaine addiction is serious and deadly. Upon using cocaine, the user experiences an acute and strong rush to the mind and body, making them feel like they are moving at 60 miles an hour while sitting still. The high is not long lasting and usually ends in the exact opposite: a low depression and craving for more cocaine. As a result, the addiction to cocaine forms very quickly, sometimes right after the first time someone uses it. Cocaine also makes someone paranoid, anxious and hostile, even when they are not high on it.
Even after the first usage, cocaine drastically increases the risk of the user having a heart attack. Heart rate is increased drastically. Over time, even a short amount of time, the risk for strokes, breathing failure and seizures increases at a large rate. Loss of appetite, increased blood pressure and body temperature, disturbed sleep patterns, psychoses like hallucinations, and a myriad of other things are included just in the short-term effects of cocaine usage. The long term effects include major bodily damage to the blood vessels, liver and heart, and severe psychological damage resulting in serious mental illnesses. This is just a short list; there are many more problems that result from cocaine usage. It is a highly destructive substance.
When coming off of cocaine, the first road bump encountered is a severe “crash”. What this means is that the high associated with cocaine has an equal and opposite low once the drug is not present. This is what makes is so addictive. After the crash has been surmounted, which usually does not last for too long (maybe about 24 hours), other problems lessened in their intensity (compared to the initial crash) begin to arise. These include sleep deprivation, mood changes, increased appetite, and physical slowing or agitation. After these have dissipated over the course of maybe a week or so, then the road to recovery begins.
Someone who was highly addicted to cocaine definitely feels the lack of the drug in their lives afterwards. The drug made things more exciting; it put their life “in the fast lane”. A strong recovery and support group is needed in order to stay off of the drug.
Cocaine also has its very own recovery group due to its unique potency and culture. Cocaine Anonymous, or simply CA, is very prolific in the recovery world and 12-step meetings can be found almost anywhere.
Alcohol is the most prolific addictive substance in the world today. This is due to the fact that it is legal throughout most of the world, except in a few locations such as Saudi Arabia.
Alcoholism is an affliction affecting millions of people across the world today. Warning signs for victims of alcoholism are apparent least of all to the addicted person and more obvious to those around them. The affliction of alcoholism causes a level of extreme denial to the user that allows the disease to continue to flourish. Alcoholism is defined by the American Medical Association as a disease- more specifically, “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations."
Alcoholism has lasting and devastating negative effects on the body and a persons well-being, such as cirrhosis of the liver, multiple sclerosis, nerve damage, “wet brain” (which is the condition wherein the brain is permanently saturated with alcohol) as well as domestic and legal fallout of the alcoholics life.
As opposed to any other addiction, the withdrawals from alcoholism can actually be lethal. The detoxification from alcoholism must be carried out within an inpatient facility due to the extremity of the withdrawals. At their worst, they can take the form of:
- Extreme Confusion or Agitation
- High Fever
- Heart Disturbances
- Seizures of Varying Severity, all the way up to Grand Mal
- Hallucinations, including:
- Tactile (e.g. itching, burning, numbness)
- Auditory (hearing things that are not there)
- Visual (seeing things that are not there)
These withdrawals are known as Delirium Tremens (DTs) and can be lethal, especially when it comes to the disturbances with the heart and seizures. Someone who is trying to detox on their own might not survive. Alcohol withdrawals are the only withdrawals that are actually treated with the very substance that the alcoholic is trying to get off of. Small amounts of alcohol are used with someone who is going through bad DTs in order to keep the withdrawals at a manageable level.
Once the withdrawals have subsided and detoxification has been completed, it is highly recommended that the recovering alcoholic join Alcoholics Anonymous. AA was the first 12-step recovery program in the world and has since grown to become multinational, giving rise to every other 12-step program known today. It has been time-tested and proven to work, even in the most extreme situations.
Womens-Only Recovery Programs
In recent times, recovery centers and treatment programs have risen across the country that serve women specifically. It has been typical with 12-step programs to have gender-specific meetings, but recently it has been taken a step further to serve the unique, specific recovery needs of women who are addicted to substances.
These programs tend to take more of a holistic approach, using means such as natural remedies, yoga, meditation and massage to help the afflicted women achieve sobriety and recovery.