Author: Lisa Downing
As they grow up, our daughters are the lights of our lives. However, we can’t control everything. One of the hardest realizations that a parent may have to rationalize is that their little girl, that seemed to have it all together, can grow up to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. Of course, the critical part of this is to make sure we identify and address the substance abuse or addiction issue early. This offers the greatest chance for recovery with the fewest long-term or permanent effects. Regardless, however, it may take time for parents to realize that there is a substance-abuse problem, even if many of the signs are clear to a professional.
Today we discuss the case of a male client in his early 30s. He presented for treatment for alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, depression, and a history of suicide attempts. He reported abusing substances before the age of 10 and being diagnosed with depression after being admitted to treatment for the first time. He also suffered a history of suicidal thoughts and attempts due to carrying the burden of guilt and shame caused by the death of a close family member. The client took a leave of absence from work to seek treatment, had run-ins with law enforcement several times and had been to treatment twice before.
Possibly the most heartbreaking event in a parent’s life is when they confirm that the odd and erratic behavior that their 25 year old son has been exhibiting, turns out to be one of their worst fears – substance abuse. Whether it is illicit drug abuse or alcohol, most parents start to notice a change in their adult child and begin to wonder if substance abuse might be at play. Once addiction is confirmed, the concern shifts from identifying the cause of the behavior to determining the solution.
The truth is anyone can become an addict whether they are a hero working on the front lines or a teen who succumbs to peer pressure. Risk factors make addiction more likely to take place in some people. It is a combination of biology and environment that make some people more susceptible to addiction.
When caught in the midst of addiction, it can often feel like you are on a roller coaster. The ups and downs are extremely disruptive and difficult to control. For many trapped in the addictive cycle, it can seem nearly impossible to exercise real self-control. Intense emotions in response to any number of situations quickly lead to using again, regardless of how much you may want to stop. It is often this cycle of using, trying to quit, failing, and using again that leads people to seek out professional help in the form of rehabilitation.
Admitting you have a substance abuse problem and seeking treatment takes courage. The ideal treatment option depends on your age, physiology, medical history, and whether you have other pre-existing mental or physical health conditions. Before treatment, you should understand the ABCs of choosing a treatment plan, plus what to expect from your clinician and from yourself. The primary objectives of addiction treatment include education, detoxification, and developing positive coping strategies.
Pain takes many forms including minor aches, temporary bouts of sharp pain, or chronic pain. For those pains beyond the norm, doctors may prescribe medication that is stronger than typical over-the-counter pain relievers. Opioids are a class of prescription painkillers that help blunt severe pain and can be very helpful for those recovering from physical trauma including surgery. Opioids, such as methadone, have also been used to treat those with an opioid addiction. However, using any opioid medication may also carry risks.
No one can argue that what we are facing, collectively as a society, seems like the entire world has been turned upside down. Indeed, life doesn’t resemble much of what we all enjoyed just a month or two ago. While this shift has been faced all over the world, it can seem oddly personal. Sometimes, for those facing addiction, it can seem like the mounting pressures, mandates, and uncertainties are heightened and increasingly overwhelming when added to the daily challenge of sticking to sobriety.
We are often told to find the silver lining in life’s complications, but this pandemic is something none of us have ever experienced. When you don’t know how something will turn out, it can be tough to stay positive…and on track.
Never have our front-line medical professionals been subject to such high levels of stress on the job, which can affect their ability to function both at work and in personal relationships. The link between stress in the medical field and addictive behavior is clear. However, addictions can come in many forms, and non-substance abusing habits can often be destructive as well.
Stress management is an important issue in our modern world, and some occupations are more acutely associated with stress than others. First responders like our EMTs nurses and doctors, especially with the current COVID-19 crisis, face enormous levels of stress daily. Without optimum stress management, these frontline medical professionals are vulnerable to the effects of stress, which can be extremely damaging to their physical and mental health.