What Is Chemical Dependency?

When an individual is experiencing a struggle with dependency, the damage reaches far beyond their own personal life. Employment, finances, relationships, and loved ones are all severely impacted as well. The spiralling effect of losing control of these parameters makes the chemical process and dependency even more intense.

Sometimes, the first step to recovery is for the individual seeking treatment and their support system to understand the situation from a new perspective. The physiological symptoms of dependency affect the body, mind and spirit in multiple ways. It is essential to recognize these changes as the process of recovery begins.

Chemical Dependency

A common language definition of chemical dependency may include the overall impacts to the brain, which triggers behavior in response to external stimuli. These normal reactions are enhanced or altered as a result of substance use. Over a period of time, these abnormal reactions have become the status quo for a brain that has experienced a change in neural pathways as a result of substance abuse.

These physical and neurological changes create a need for the client to continue taking whatever harmful substance caused the alteration. Unfortunately, this cycle is not easily broken because the human brain is a very powerful organ that adapts to new environments by creating a point of reference from which to move forward. A treatment plan to successfully overcome a chemical dependence created by substance abuse will require a change from the inside out.

Inclusive treatment programs that treat the whole problem rather than concentrating their efforts in only one area, such as destructive thoughts, are typically the most effective recovery options for someone overcoming a chemical need to use an unhealthy substance. These individuals usually realize the unwanted path their life is taking, and are aware of the potential for destruction. However, they are no longer led by their own free will; they are essentially being controlled by the desires and physical cravings of their brain due to chronic exposure to toxic substances.

Common Symptoms of Dependency

There is a difference between substance abuse and chemical dependence on a substance. The use and abuse of various substances will affect different individuals in very different ways. Some may use the substance recreationally for years and quit in one day with no adverse side effects while another person may try the same substance virtually one time and develop a dependency.

The research on the causes related to these two scenarios is still ongoing, but one thing is certain. The chemical changes in the brain create several telltale signs of an altered neural pathway. In turn, those chemical changes are manifested in a person through changes in their behavior, mood, personality, and thoughts.

Sometimes these changes are erratic, such as expression through rash, violent behaviors. These outbursts are usually in direct relation to not being able to have access to their substance of choice. The brain feels suppressed and triggers the body into flight or fight mode, releasing adrenaline and other hormones in an attempt to move into action in search of the desired substance.

This cycle of need, in its most intense form, creates a primal human being that is essentially living only to use the harmful substance and literally using the harmful substance to continue living. The effects are far-reaching and terrifying for the client who is powerless to override their own brain, which has become hardwired to only operate with the presence of the substance.

Possible Dependency Indicators

Recognizing symptoms in yourself or a loved one is never easy. There is a strong tendency to believe everything is fine and retreat into denial of the substance abuse problem. However, there are some signals and warning signs that may be useful in deciding when to intervene and seek assistance early.

It is helpful to know how you behave or how your loved one typically behaves when under the influence of a particular substance. Physical symptoms may include itching, incessant scratching, red or watery eyes, or difficulty staying awake during daily tasks. Mood changes are also a good indicator of when a substance has begun the process of chemically altering the brain.

When a person who is normally a jovial extrovert gradually becomes despondent and sullen, this could be a sign of worsening substance abuse behavior. Likewise, when a person who normally behaves as a wallflower suddenly becomes gregarious or begins to indulge in increasingly risky behaviors, it may be the right time to seek professional help.

Listless behavior, loss of appetite, unexplained changes in weight, hygiene habits, or general wellbeing are all common signs that dependency could be present in an individual. Unpredictable and even criminal behaviors such as lying, stealing, becoming violent or defensive, and being generally evasive about themselves can also be triggers for loved ones to step in and assist in the procurement of substance abuse treatment. Preferably, treatment at this stage should include a qualified facility to assist with chemical detox procedures.

Chemical Detoxification

Appropriate access to the detoxification process should occur in a medically monitored facility that has experience in the treatment of individuals with a particular substance abuse history. The importance of experienced staff and a monitored client cannot be overestimated, especially within the first days of detoxification.

For the comfort and safety of the client, substitute chemical compounds may be used in conjunction with other treatment options. These synthetically manufactured substitutes are intended to trick the brain into behaving normally because it reproduces the side effects of the harmful substance under direct professional guidance. The overall goal is to eliminate the need for any substance and the underlying chemical dependence on any such product.

Substitutes and other medical interventions may be used to help the client avoid unpleasant feelings associated with the withdrawal of a particular substance. Treatments for headache, nausea, and generalized pain may be prescribed throughout the first phase of treatment. The need for these supplements gradually decreases, and other forms of treatment are introduced to help the client overcome dependency.

If you or a loved one is experiencing the trauma of substance abuse or chemical dependency, confidential help is available. The professional staff at St. John’s Recovery Place understands your needs and is here to help you meet them. Call today and experience freedom.

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