How Drug Addiction Ruined My Life


We often hear from women who feel their alcohol or drug addiction has ruined their lives. While it can feel this way, and undoubtedly addiction affects your life in many ways, there is always hope. 

Addiction is a disease affecting your brain and physical health. When you have a substance use disorder to alcohol or illegal drugs, it also affects everything else in your life. These effects can extend to your family and children, your career, and your finances.

Those effects can lead to feelings of guilt and shame. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, guilt and shame then perpetuate the cycle of addiction. 

If you can break that cycle with practical, evidence-based treatment. In that case, you can begin to repair the other areas of your life you feel your relationship with addictive substances has damaged. 

Hope is never lost. During a rehab program, we address not just ways you can stop using drugs or alcohol. We also work on relapse prevention and coping strategies and help you prepare to re-enter your life and thrive.

Before you can get on a path to recovery, you need to take steps to get treatment, which will be the most challenging part of the situation. Recognizing the impact and harmful consequences of your addiction can be painful. That recognition is necessary, however, to move forward.


What Is Addiction?

Understanding the biological elements of addiction can help you eliminate some of the shame you might feel. Addiction is a chronic dysfunction of your brain. 

  • The disease affects the parts of your brain controlling motivation, memory, and primarily, reward. 
  • When you’re struggling with addiction, you won’t be able to stop using the substance often without professional treatment.
  • You may have no self-control. Your desire to keep using drugs or alcohol outweighs everything else because your brain is compelling you to keep using.
  • Even when you realize the adverse effects of your addiction, you can’t stop. When you have a substance use disorder, you may try to cut down or stop, but you can’t.


What is the Most Addictive Drug?

The most addictive drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine
  • Heroin
  • Prescription drugs like oxycontin and other opioid pain relievers


Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

Addiction to both drugs and alcohol is a brain disease. 

  • When you use addictive drugs, they create a euphoric high. 
  • The high is pleasurable and is due mainly to effects on dopamine levels.
  •  There are physical and psychological elements to the euphoria that comes with extraordinarily high levels of dopamine. 
  • For some people, once that pleasure occurs, the reward pathways in the brain are activated. 
  • While initially using the drug may have been your choice, eventually, your brain adjusts itself to the presence of the substance.

There is also a physical element which is dependence. When you have physical dependence and psychological dependence on any type of drug, if you stop suddenly, it will cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly. 

Some people can use substances and never become addicted. Then others might use drugs or alcohol for a short period of time and develop an addiction. 

  • Some of whether or not you develop a substance use disorder depend on the frontal lobes of your brain. 
  • Your frontal lobes ordinarily help you to delay gratification or reward. 
  • If you have a malfunction in your frontal lobes, gratification is immediate, potentially triggering an addiction.
  • Other parts of your brain play a role in addiction too. For example, the nucleus accumbens controls sensations of pleasure. This part of your brain can increase your response when there’s exposure to substances or even behaviors that can be addictive.
  • Chemical imbalances and co-occurring mental illness can also put you at a higher risk of alcohol addiction or addiction to recreational drugs. 
  • When you have an addicted brain, it affects your decision-making, learning and memory, behavioral control, and judgment.

These effects are why you’ll often see someone who was once a high achiever, for example, losing everything before seeking substance abuse treatment. 



Addiction is a Chronic Disease

Along with being a disease, more specifically, alcohol or drug addiction is a chronic illness. Chronic disease can be treated and managed, although not necessarily cured. 

Addiction is not a moral failing. 

Long-term recovery is when you’re in remission from the disease of addiction. For people in recovery, it’s essential to focus on continuing your treatment plan and making healthy lifestyle decisions to avoid addictive behaviors. 

Risk factors increasing your risk of developing a substance abuse disorder include genetic factors and family history, environmental factors, and the use of drugs or alcohol in your developmental years. Having a mental health issue or a medical condition like chronic pain can also raise the risk of addiction. 


How Addiction Affects the Family

The devastating effects of addiction impact families, including spouses, children, and parents, significantly.

If you have a young child, seeing you suffer from addiction can create emotional pain and distress for them. When a child faces exposure to drugs or alcohol, it can affect their emotional and mental health and stability.

Again, a key symptom of addiction is that the substance takes priority over everything else, wreaking havoc on all parts of your life.

Even though an addicted person may recognize the negative consequences of their addiction to alcohol or drugs, they can’t stop. 

Other effects of substance use disorders include:

  • Declines in work performance
  • Job loss
  • Breakdowns in romantic relationships, such as a marriage
  • Health issues
  • Changes in mood or behavior such as a lack of energy, being socially withdrawn, or neglecting hygiene and appearance
  • Significant financial problems


How to Help Someone with Drug Addiction

Maybe you aren’t the person struggling with addiction, but you have a loved one who is. What can you do? There are certain things out of your control and some steps you can take.

  • Learn as much as you can about substance abuse and addiction treatment. When you understand that dealing with substance use disorders isn’t a choice and is a disease, it can help you come from a place of empathy rather than judgment. There are good resources like the Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse to connect with information. 
  • Often people with a substance use disorder have an untreated co-occurring mental health disorder. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. You can take the time to educate yourself on mental health disorders and their effects. You might even reach out to a therapist or mental health provider on behalf of your loved one.
  • Don’t wait for your loved one to hit rock bottom before saying something about their drug misuse. The longer they go with untreated addiction, the more significant and devastating the effects. Speak out as soon as you can.
  • Be honest about your concerns. Offer particular examples of the effects of addiction-related destructive behavior. Be honest about your feelings as well.
  • Listen to what the person is saying. Don’t try to argue with them. Instead, let them feel heard, so they can understand you’re a positive support system.
  • Offer information about how the person can deal with their addiction to drugs or alcohol, such as contacting a rehab center.
  • Don’t try to bribe, threaten or lecture the person. Emotional appeals tend to bring about more feelings of guilt. Again, guilt fuels addiction, which is counterproductive when interacting with people with substance use disorders. 
  • Know that one conversation is unlikely to encourage the person to change. It takes time, and recovery is a process.
  • Consider staging an intervention.
  • If your loved one agrees to treatment, realize that every person is unique, and so is their recovery. Be patient, and manage your expectations.

Drug addiction can and often does ruin your life. That doesn’t mean that your life isn’t salvageable, though. Whether you’re personally in the midst of active addiction or you have a loved one who is, help exists.

Treatment for drug addiction, including alcohol or opioid addiction, requires behavioral therapies and in some cases medication-assisted treatment. It’s also important any underlying mental health conditions receive treatment before the recovery process can begin. 

The first step to facilitate a sense of hope is treatment. Call 866-600-7709 and reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team to learn more.

Is Internet Addiction a Mental Disorder?

Internet addiction disorder

Internet addiction disorder


There is no recognition of internet addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, the DSM-5 does include internet gaming disorder, which is similar, as a condition for further study. Internet addiction, in the manual, is highlighted as a developing area of specialty.

While pathological internet use is still being studied as far as setting diagnostic criteria, we know a fair amount about behavioral addictions. Behavioral addictions can include internet, gaming, and social media addiction. Other behavioral addictions are compulsive shopping, gambling addiction, and sex addiction.

Just because researchers need to learn more about addictive behaviors to include them in the DSM-5 doesn’t mean these behaviors don’t cause you distress. 

Behavioral addictions affect your brain in many of the same ways as different types of addictions to substances like drugs and alcohol. As a result, they often require professional treatment.


What is a Behavioral Addiction?

If we talk about addiction relating to online activities, it will fall into the larger category of behavioral addiction.

  • For people with internet addiction or other behavioral addictions, it can take over their lives. 
  • You may seek out increasing opportunities to engage in the behavior. 
  • The compulsive behavior that you’re addicted to is your top priority. 
  • Other things in your life suffer, including your career and relationships.
  • You can also go through withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Gambling addiction is the only behavioral addiction officially recognized in the DSM-5.

Behavioral addiction is also known as a process addiction. A process addiction follows the same patterns as an addiction to substances. The problems stemming from process addictions affect your life in many ways, similar to being addicted to drugs or alcohol.


Signs of a Behavioral Addiction

Signs and criteria for internet addiction and behavioral addictions include:

  • Spending most of your time doing the behavior or thinking about it. You may also spend significant amounts of time planning to do the behavior.
  • You’re depending on engaging in the behavior as a coping mechanism for emotions and to feel normal.
  • You continue to engage in the behavior even though it causes negative consequences. 
  • Someone with a behavioral addiction may want to stop or cut back, but they can’t.
  • You neglect other priorities in your life.
  • You can go through withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and depression if you try to stop the behavior.
  • Often someone with a behavioral or process addiction will minimize or hide the problem.

We’ve touched on a few, but some of the most common behavioral addictions and impulse control disorders treatment providers see include:

  • Exercise addiction
  • Pathological gambling, including online gambling 
  • Food addiction
  • Compulsive internet use 
  • Porn addiction
  • Food addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Video game addiction/online gaming addiction
  • Work addiction
  • Tattoo addiction

Even if we don’t call compulsive behavior an addiction, it can lead to significant problems and distress.


Symptoms of Internet Addictive Disorders 

Getting a diagnosis for internet addiction can be tricky since it isn’t formally recognized. However behavioral health experts tend to see some common elements in people with internet addiction. 

Symptoms of internet addiction may include:

  • Excessive or problematic internet use: If you’re concerned about your excessive internet use, there are a few things to think about. Do you stay online for longer than you mean to, or are other people often complaining about the time you spend online? You might think to yourself that you’re just going to be a few more minutes when you’re online, or you could hide your usage. You might also try and ultimately fail to reduce your online time.
  • Withdrawal: We most frequently talk about withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, but the symptoms can occur in behavioral addictions too. You may feel tense, angry, or depressed when you can’t go online because of internet dependency. 
  • Tolerance: One of the defining symptoms of drug or alcohol addiction is tolerance. Your brain becomes used to the stimulus of whatever it is you’re doing. Then, you need more of it to keep getting that high you’re chasing. You could see this play out in an internet addiction as you spend more and more time online. Eventually, you could find yourself centering your entire day around using the internet.
  • Adverse effects: If there weren’t harm stemming from addiction to anything, we wouldn’t see it as a problem. There is though and the internet isn’t an exception. Your performance at school or work could begin to suffer. Internet addicts might not have the energy to devote to other things in their life. Your finances and quality of relationships can suffer. You can also have adverse health effects like carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia, neck pain, and weight gain.



Types of Internet Addiction

Internet addiction can become a catch-all term, and there are subtypes of this compulsive behavior.

For example, one subtype is compulsive information seeking. You might seek information online to the point that it becomes obsessive-compulsive. When you’re amid compulsive information seeking, it can impact your work productivity and performance.

Pornography and cybersex addictions can arise. These compulsive behaviors can impact your ability to form meaningful relationships in your own life.

We’re seeing a rise in internet gaming addicts currently. 

Social media addiction is also a big one getting a lot of attention. You might get addicted to the dopamine you feel when someone likes your post. This creates a feedback loop, and it can be damaging to multiple areas of your life, including your self-esteem and sense of self-worth.


Internet Addictions and Co-Occurring Disorders

As with other types of addiction, when you compulsively use the internet, it can co-occur with other psychiatric disorders when you compulsively use the internet. 

Which clinical disorder comes first can vary. For example, you could be more pre-disposed to internet addiction if you have other psychiatric disorders like anxiety or depression, you could be more pre-disposed to internet addiction. Your use of the internet could be a coping mechanism or a way to self-medicate and deal with your psychiatric symptoms. 

In another situation, internet use behaviors could contribute to developing a mental health disorder.


Treatment for Internet Addiction

While a mental health professional might not have a set of criteria to diagnose an internet addiction from the DSM-5, that doesn’t mean they can’t help you.

If you’re struggling with online use, including gaming, social media, or anything else involving the internet, a therapist can help you work through what’s going on.

There isn’t one specific treatment for internet addiction. The treatment can depend on a variety of individual factors. For example, how severe are your behaviors, and how do they affect your life?

Therapy is one of the most common types of interventions for internet addiction. Treatment should also address co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In some instances, medication may be part of treatment, especially if there’s an underlying mental health disorder.

To learn more about aftercare treatment for an addictive disorder, please call 866-600-7709 and reach out to the team at Anchored Tides Recovery.

What are the Different Types of Addiction?

types of addiction


What we often don’t think about is the fact that along with substance use disorders, there are other types of addiction as well. Addiction is a dysfunction of your brain’s reward system. When you have an addiction, it also affects your memory and motivation.

These adverse effects on your brain function that occur with an addiction can lead your body to crave a behavior or substance.  You may obsessively try and pursue whatever it is you’re addicted to. Even when negative consequences stem from the addiction, you continue anyway. Your addiction is your ultimate priority, above anything else.

Broadly, we can divide the different types of addiction into two categories—chemical and behavioral.

Chemical addiction is the misuse of substances like illicit drugs. Behavioral addictions are those compulsive behaviors that you carry out even when they aren’t beneficial and are harmful. Sometimes you’ll hear references to a shopping addiction or internet addiction, for example.

Addictive behavior often co-occurs with other mental disorders. 


Understanding Addiction

Addiction interferes with your brain’s reward system and other elements of its function. When you’re doing enjoyable things, your reward system releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Dopamine doesn’t necessarily cause feelings of pleasure. Instead, it reinforces the association your brain makes between certain activities and feelings of pleasure you experience.

That reinforcement leads you to want to continue to seek those things out.

If you use drugs or engage in a certain behavior, you may want to experience the feelings of euphoria they create again. This can lead to cravings for behavior or substance like prescription medications, illegal drugs, or alcohol. Cravings can be one of the first symptoms of addiction.

When you continue to use the substance or do the behavior, your brain keeps triggering a high release of dopamine. Then, eventually, your brain starts to produce lower amounts of dopamine naturally in response to triggers that would ordinarily bring you pleasure.

As this goes on, you need more stimulus to make up for the dopamine your brain isn’t producing anymore, which is tolerance or physical dependence. 

When an addiction develops, you might lose interest in things you previously enjoyed since you aren’t making dopamine in response to these activities.

Loss of control is a defining feature of addiction, which can lead to problems in relationships, health, and your career. Many people also experience other adverse consequences of compulsive behavior patterns or substance use, like financial issues. 

When you’re in active addiction, you no longer get the pleasurable feeling from the drug or behavior, but you can’t stop doing it without therapy, addiction treatment, or behavior modification. 


What is Chemical Addiction?

Chemical addiction is a catch-all term used to refer to substance abuse, addiction, and physical and psychological dependence.

Because of that, it’s often known as a substance use disorder. A substance use disorder or actual addiction is diagnosable and can fall into one of three categories—mild, moderate, and severe.

Symptoms of substance use disorder are:

  • Intense cravings that make it hard to think about anything else daily
  • Needing to use larger doses of the substance to get the same effects
  • Feeling uncomfortable if you can’t get the substance
  • Risky use, like driving under the influence
  • Problems managing your daily responsibilities
  • Relationship issues stemming from substance use
  • Not spending as much time doing the activities you once enjoyed
  • Unsuccessful efforts to stop using the substance 
  • Withdrawal symptoms if you cut down your usage or stop cold turkey 

Some of the most common substance addictions and addictive substances include:

  • Alcohol use disorder 
  • Nicotine
  • Opioids, including prescription drug addictions and heroin
  • Cannabis
  • Amphetamine drug addiction 
  • Methamphetamine addiction disorder 
  • Cocaine


Behavioral Addictions

Behavioral addictions can be a little harder to spot and diagnose. There are fewer evidence-based criteria for the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral addictions compared to something like alcohol addiction. 

Currently, the DSM-5 does have two behavioral addictions it recognizes.

The first is gambling addiction (compulsive gambling), and the second is internet gaming disorder which is similar to video game addiction. 

  • There’s disagreement among medical experts about when behaviors can potentially become addictions and the particular behaviors that have a predisposition to lead to addiction.
  • Currently, the American Psychological Association doesn’t include behavior patterns linked to things like exercise, shopping, and sexual behavior in the DSM, because it says there isn’t enough peer-reviewed evidence available to develop diagnostic criteria.
  • That doesn’t mean that behaviors can’t lead to symptoms of addiction. It just means that as it stands right now, more research is needed to standardize how we diagnose and understand these addictions compared to other types of addiction.

General signs of a possible behavioral addiction include:

  • Spending an excessive period of time engaging in the behavior
  • Having urges to keep engaging in the behavior despite its negative effects on your life, responsibilities like school or work, or your relationships
  • Using behaviors to manage uncomfortable emotions
  • Hiding what you’re doing or how much time you spend on a behavior
  • Trouble avoiding the behavior
  • Experience symptoms of withdrawal if you don’t engage in the behavior like anxiety, depression, restlessness, or irritability
  • Continuing to engage in the behavior even when it creates distress
  • Unsuccessful efforts to stop doing whatever the behavior is 

Common types of behavioral addiction that often lead people to get professional treatment include:

  • Exercise
  • Compulsive shopping 
  • Food addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Social media
  • TV



Treatment for Substance Addiction

With a substance use disorder, most people need professional treatment. There are complex physical and mental factors and potentially co-occurring disorders that play a role in addiction. If you’re dependent on a substance, you may need a supervised detox first.

  • During detox, you can receive medical treatment for the physical symptoms of chemical dependence. 
  • Then, you could go to residential or outpatient treatment.
  • During residential treatment, you stay at a treatment facility, receiving specialized care and support. 
  • Residential rehab can last for a few weeks to several months on average.
  • An outpatient program is more flexible, and you continue to live at home.

Regardless of the specific type of addiction treatment program you participate in, psychotherapy and counseling will likely be part of it. 

  • Working with a therapist or counselor can help you understand why you started using substances and develop new coping mechanisms.
  • An FDA-approved medication can also be used for substance addiction. 
  • There are medication-assisted treatments for alcohol, opioid and nicotine addictions in particular. 
  • Medications reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Support groups like a 12-step program can help people get sober or stay in addiction recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are two of the more well-known 12-step programs.


Treatment for Behavioral Addiction

The most common approach to treating different types of addiction involving a behavior is therapy, as with other mental health disorders. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy is an evidence-based way to treat behavioral addictions.

When you participate in CBT, you’re focused on paying attention to your distressing thoughts and emotions. You work with a therapist to learn how to reframe those thoughts. You can work on the goal of developing better-coping skills.

Depending on your symptoms, an SSRI antidepressant might be part of the treatment. Participation in self-help groups can be valuable for behavioral addictions. 

Often, as is the case with treating chemical addictions, behavioral addiction treatment requires a combination of approaches.


Get Help to Avoid Complications

Different types of addiction can vary, but the one underlying concept is that they are treatable. Without treatment, both substance addictions and behavioral addictions can worsen and complications can develop. 

Over time without treatment, the effects on your life become more damaging. Reach out to us to learn more about getting the treatment you need for mental health issues or substance abuse disorder. 

Outpatient Drug Rehab for Women

drug rehab for women

drug rehab for women


When you’re a woman struggling with drugs or alcohol, there may be barriers to you getting treatment. 

One barrier to drug rehab for women is family responsibilities. You may feel like you can’t leave your role as a mother or caretaker. What’s important to realize is that getting help for an addiction to drugs or alcohol is the most important thing you can do for your family and yourself.


Meeting Your Treatment Needs 

You shouldn’t let family responsibilities be a barrier to getting drug treatment.

Instead, you might look for a drug rehab for women that centers around meeting your needs. Outpatient rehab programs can be a way to continue maintaining your responsibilities at home or work and work toward recovery.

Outpatient rehab has a lot of benefits for women, as does gender-specific treatment. When you participate in an outpatient program, you can also maintain your job, families are often incorporated as part of treatment, and they’re more affordable than residential treatment.

Whether you’re dealing with alcohol abuse or drug addiction, outpatient substance abuse treatment programs can be a valuable part of your recovery process to work toward a sober life.

You can also get help for co-occurring mental health disorders and mental health issues to promote sustainable long-term recovery. 


What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab can be the best recovery for women in some circumstances. These programs and addiction treatment centers allow you to attend programs during the day. Then, when your treatment ends for the day, you return home in the evening; you will participate in structured treatment sessions. You might also attend support groups throughout the week. 

By contrast, during inpatient rehab, also known as residential treatment, you live at the facility for a period.

There are many differences in outpatient programs, including the format and intensity. In general, the shared features of outpatient rehab include a focus on counseling and education and a support network.


Types of Outpatient Programs

There are three general types of outpatient programs, which include:


Day Programs

An outpatient day rehab program is somewhat like residential rehab because there’s a high level of a structured care, and it’s a safe space. The only difference between a day program and residential rehab is that you return home in the evenings versus sleeping at the treatment facility.

During day treatment for addiction issues, you will usually attend meetings and treatment sessions anywhere from five to seven days a week. Your sessions will last for multiple hours. Types of sessions you participate in could include individual therapy, group counseling, and other types of treatment like music or art therapy.

You would then return home after your sessions, or maybe to a sober living home.

This type of outpatient program doesn’t provide as much flexibility. There’s a significant time commitment, limiting whether you can continue working or keep up with your other responsibilities.


Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

During an intensive outpatient program, you have a formal treatment plan. A treatment plan in an IOP will usually include set milestones to track progress. As you meet pre-defined milestones, the time commitment each week goes down.

An IOP is a good drug rehab for women who need fairly intensive treatment for substance abuse issues and have other responsibilities to keep up with their daily lives.

There are different types of treatment you could participate in during an IOP for alcohol or drug abuse. For example, you might do individual and group counseling, relapse prevention, and you could also participate in a recovery support group like a 12-step program.



Continuing Care

A continuing-care plan most often includes participation in a 12-step support group like Alcoholics Anonymous. Continuing care groups may also be specified for one gender or have separations based on age.

You can participate in an outpatient program at a rehab center, mental health clinic, or you might simply meet with a behavioral health counselor regularly.

There are also outpatient programs that offer weekend or evening sessions. These programs are ideal if you balance your treatment with personal, family, or professional obligations.

Some of the many specific elements of outpatient treatment you may experience include:

  • Family therapy
  • Group counseling
  • Individual therapy
  • Education sessions
  • Recreational or occupational therapy
  • Talk therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment

The therapeutic techniques utilized in outpatient rehab may include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy, focusing on changing harmful ways of thinking and behaviors. CBT also helps you learn coping skills, avoid triggers and deal with high-risk situations that could otherwise lead to relapse.
  • Contingency management, providing small rewards as a way of reinforcing desirable behaviors.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy helps increase your confidence and motivation to make positive changes in your life.
  • Twelve-step facilitation therapy, which uses principles from Alcoholics Anonymous and mutual-help support groups. You might continue with 12-step meetings after your treatment program ends. 
  • Family behavior therapy can address issues in the home environment that occur along with substance use.


What are the Benefits of Outpatient Treatment?

Some of the benefits of outpatient drug rehab for women or alcohol addiction treatment programs include:

  • There’s flexibility. When you participate in an outpatient treatment program, you can come and go as you need but still receive holistic treatments and, if necessary, dual diagnosis treatment. If you have children at home, for example, you may not have the option to spend time in a residential facility. You can work out a plan with your treatment provider that will work with the other responsibilities in your life you need to balance. You’ll have the flexibility to maintain other important things in your life.
  • When you go to outpatient treatment, you can stay connected with your family and loved ones rather than leaving them. Many people find this family support element helps them a lot as they go through treatment.
  • With inpatient rehab, the environment is very structured and secure. That can be great in some ways, but it doesn’t always reflect the world waiting for you. When you do outpatient treatment, you’re putting your new skills and coping mechanisms to use right away.
  • You get more privacy and one-on-one treatment in outpatient rehab a lot of times. Outpatient rehab is more individually focused, while in residential rehab, it’s about the group as a whole in addition to you as an individual.
  • Outpatient rehab tends to be more affordable than an inpatient program, so this helps break down yet more barriers to receiving treatment. Many insurance programs will also cover some or all of your inpatient treatment.
  • If you have a mild or short-term addiction to drugs or an alcohol use disorder, you may not need inpatient rehab. Outpatient treatment programs can adequately meet your needs.

You might begin your treatment journey in an outpatient program. For some people, it’s more appropriate to start with inpatient rehab and then, when you’re ready, move into the lower level of care offered by outpatient rehab.

Whether you participate in an outpatient program as a woman with a substance use disorder or another type of treatment, what’s most important is that you get the help you deserve. Call 866-600-7709 and reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team to learn more about the best recovery for women and specific options that work in terms of drug rehab.

Relationship PTSD Symptoms in Women

relationship ptsd

relationship ptsd


The term post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is one you may be familiar with in a general sense without understanding its implications. 

For example, we often think only military veterans can have PTSD. In reality, anyone can experience the symptoms. 

  • Traumatic events can be one-offs like a terrorist attack, sexual assault, or natural disaster. 
  • Trauma can also occur over time, as is the case with childhood abuse.
  • Another scenario where PTSD may occur is following a toxic relationship. Relationship PTSD can make it challenging to form genuine bonds in the future. Even if your past relationships didn’t involve domestic violence or physical assault, relationship PTSD could still occur.

Relationships that are distressing and cause you pain can have long-lasting effects on your mental and emotional well-being. These stressful events and painful memories can contribute to a wide range of mood symptoms. 

When you trust and love someone, and they criticize you or put you down or try to control and manipulate you, it’s not just painful at the moment it’s occurring. When you experience toxic or emotionally abusive relationships, it can influence your feelings of safety, self-worth, and self-confidence.

Once you end a toxic relationship, you may feel like its effects still trap you. You may experience constant reminders of the relationship, and that’s because you can’t just walk away from trauma.


What Is Relationship PTSD?

Generally, posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to lingering feelings of distress and fear after an event. Symptoms include flashbacks and avoidance and other similar symptoms that persist after the traumatic event ends.

  • When you experience an abusive relationship, you may end the abuse, but not the effects.
  • Mental health experts describe this situation as post-traumatic relationship syndrome or PTRS. A relatively new term, PTRS, occurs following the experience of trauma in an intimate relationship.
  • PTRS includes the arousal and intrusive signs of PTSD, but it doesn’t have the avoidance symptoms that are part of a PTSD diagnosis. 
  • PTRS is also described as an anxiety disorder occurring after the experience of abuse, physically, emotionally, or psychologically within the context of an intimate partner relationship.

When someone has PTSD, they might try to block out or avoid memories. The big difference with PTRS is that you continue to revisit and experience memories over and over again. With traumatization, it’s challenging to move forward and build healthy relationships with partners in the future.  

When you have PTRS, you’re fully aware of everything that happened since you can’t avoid memories and reminders of the relationship. You may try to deal with your emotional response since you can’t numb the distress.

You can experience PTRS without having any threat of physical harm. Symptoms can include horror, rage, and fear.


Causes of PTRS

Direct causes of post-traumatic relationship stress can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, including sexual coercion, or emotional abuse. Emotional abuse includes manipulation, gaslighting, and control.

Indicators of a toxic dynamic can cause PTRS, such as silent treatment or ignoring you. When a partner is unfaithful, this can also lead to PTRS. Cheating is known as betrayal trauma, although it’s not on its abuse.



What Are the Long-Term Effects of Relationship PTSD?

When you don’t receive help, relationship PTSD tends to be progressive, getting worse over time. 

  • You may feel isolated because you feel you cannot share what you went through with other people.
  • You may have an ongoing fear of more trauma, making it difficult to relax or practice self-care. 
  • When you’re constantly feeling stressed and aren’t engaging in self-care, you may experience burnout and physical symptoms. 
  • After you experience PTSD from a romantic relationship, you might feel unsafe in the world in general, and you can’t feel safe with anyone around you. 
  • Some people also blame themselves for what they went through, leading to feelings of unworthiness and guilt.
  • You could avoid relationships altogether, including ones that are healthy and nurturing.


PTSD Symptoms in Women

PTSD symptoms in women are similar to PTRS symptoms, with a few exceptions. In general, PTSD symptoms in women can include:

  • Avoidance of reminders of the trauma. Avoidance in PTSD tends to be more common in women than men. Avoidance includes emotional avoidance and behavioral avoidance. Behavioral avoidance means avoiding the people, places, things, or other environmental triggers that remind you of trauma. In women, avoidance is one of the most common PTSD symptoms.
  • Hyperarousal is a term that refers to having a heightened state of anxiety. Hyperarousal symptoms include excessive startle reflex, problems with concentration, irritability, panic attacks, and hypervigilance.
  • Re-experiencing the trauma is a common symptom in trauma survivors. You might have intrusive, unwanted thoughts and memories related to the trauma, nightmares, or flashbacks. Women tend to experience this more than men.
  • Emotional numbness is the symptom of PTSD that tends to be much less common in PTRS. Emotional numbness means you lack emotion, lose interest, and feel detached from other people. You may also experience social isolation as a result.


Why Do Women Experience Symptoms of PTSD Differently Than Men?

One theory why women might experience PTSD differently than men is that women are more likely to internalize things, meaning more internalizing disorders like depression and anxiety.

On the other hand, men are more likely to develop externalizing disorders, like substance abuse or have angry outbursts. 

Many women may wait longer to get treatment or not get it at all.


Relationship PTSD Symptoms

While there is some overlap, some of the most common signs of PTSD stemming from a relationship include:

  • Constantly feeling on-edge: We talked about this above, but in the particular context of a relationship, you may constantly worry about a future romantic partner ridiculing you or starting a fight with you. You may be overly aware of triggers that could lead to situations similar to your past trauma.
  • Overreaction: If you experienced past trauma in a relationship or always felt like you were walking on eggshells, that could make you hypercritical of your current partner. If you notice yourself overreacting to little or unimportant things, you might reflect on why that’s happening. These can also be known as reactivity symptoms. 
  • Problems with communication: Following a relationship leading to trauma, you might be less willing to talk to a future partner about what you’re feeling. You may have a hard time letting your guard down or making decisions together.
  • Turning off your emotions: You might not let yourself feel positive emotions after you’ve gone through a relationship filled with negative ones.

So what can you do if you notice the signs of PTSD or, more specifically, relationship PTSD in yourself?

The best option is to seek help as soon as you can. PTSD, when left untreated, can not just negatively affect current and future relationships. Untreated PTSD or PTRS can lead to complications like substance use disorders and other mental disorders. 

Contact the team at Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709 to learn more about treatment options, such as cognitive processing therapy and exposure therapy. 

5 Drug Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

drug detox withdrawal symptoms

drug detox withdrawal symptoms


Drug addiction and drug dependence are two separate things. They’re often confused as being the same. While they often occur together, they’re different as far as the symptoms and the treatments.

Drug dependence is a physiological response to longer-term substance use. We’ll detail more about drug dependence and how this leads to drug detox withdrawal symptoms. We’ll also cover some of the common withdrawal symptoms people often experience.


What is Substance Dependence?

When you use certain substances like alcohol, opioids, or other psychoactive drugs, they affect your brain’s chemicals. Over time, substance use changes the function and structure of the brain. Your central nervous system also changes in response to the effects of the drugs. 

  • For example, your body, when you first take certain substances, your body releases a tremendous amount of dopamine. 
  • That dopamine is responsible for the euphoric high you can feel. 
  • The dopamine flood triggers a reward response in your brains’ circuits. 
  • Then, you might compulsively start to use the substance repeatedly because of the reward cycle.

There’s something else happening too. Your brain and central nervous system start to rely on the effects of a substance. 

  • The amount of dopamine, for example, that you naturally produce goes down because your body depends on the artificial creation the substance facilitates. 
  • As your brain and body gradually adjust to the presence of substances, the high you once felt dissipates. 
  • You might take more and more of the drug to try and chase that feeling. You’re no longer using drugs because of the high at that point. 
  • You’re using them because you’re addicted and physically dependent.

With physical dependence, stopping using the substance, whether alcohol or illegal drugs, can suddenly lead to withdrawal symptoms; withdrawal symptoms result from your body trying to normalize itself. Your body is going through a period of imbalance when you suddenly remove the substances it now depends on.

We can compare this to caffeine. If you’re a regular coffee drinker and skip it one morning, you may get a headache. This is a mild form of withdrawal following a lack of caffeine intake. 


What Affects Withdrawal Symptoms?

While withdrawal can have similar features, the detox process is also a variable experience.

Some of the factors that can influence withdrawal symptoms and the withdrawal process include:

  • The type of drug you use
  • The amount of time you use drugs
  • How much of the substance do you frequently use
  • Whether or not you combine multiple substances
  • Your overall physical health and any medical conditions you may have 
  • Underlying mental health conditions and your medical history 

If you use drugs that are pain relievers and central nervous system depressants, like opioids, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like pain hypersensitivity. If you’re going through withdrawal from benzodiazepines, which are for anxiety, you may have intense anxiety during withdrawal.

Typically when you’re going through withdrawal, there’s a paradoxical effect. A paradoxical effect means that the symptoms during that period are the opposite of the effects of the drug. They’re often more severe versions of the symptoms you might have started using the drug to treat or cope with.


Can You Die from Drug Detox Withdrawal Symptoms?

While it’s rare, certain substances with withdrawal symptoms can be deadly if you don’t get medical supervision. When drug detox and alcohol withdrawal symptoms are severe, some medications can help manage them.

Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal are typically the two that can be most severe.

For example, severe alcohol withdrawal can lead to delirium tremens. Delirium tremens can lead to severe seizures and be deadly without medical management, but it’s rare.

Opioid withdrawal isn’t usually life-threatening, but it can be very uncomfortable and challenging. There are medications specifically to help with opioid overdose symptoms.



5 Common Withdrawal Symptoms

The most common drug detox and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be divided into five general categories. While the specifics vary depending on the person and the substance, these categories do give a general idea of what to expect.


Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Clammy skin
  • Tingles
  • Feeling cold
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Changes in appetite
  • Muscle pain and muscle aches  
  • Tremors
  • Changes in blood pressure 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heart rate or changes in heart rate 



Behavioral symptoms are the ones that influence how you interact with other people. You may feel frustrated, aggressive, or depressed, and these feelings can affect your reactions to others. Specific common withdrawal symptoms that are behavioral include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Frustration



Gastrointestinal symptoms are among the most common whether you’re withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. Your digestive system is complex and related to your central nervous system. When you have GI symptoms of withdrawal, it’s because of the response of this system to the lack of substances.

Your appetite is likely affected. Other GI symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping 
  • Diarrhea


Psychological Symptoms 

When you’re going through withdrawal, it’s going to affect your mood, mental health, and sense of well-being for some time. Common symptoms that are psychological include:

  • Nervousness
  • Hallucinations including visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delirium
  • Brain fog and poor concentration
  • Problems with thinking and cognition


Sleep Disturbances

Finally, another category of withdrawal symptoms is sleep disturbance. You might sleep more or less than usual as your body is trying to regulate itself. Particular sleep symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleeplessness
  • Nightmares
  • Interrupted sleep patterns


The following are some more specific substances that lead to withdrawal and the length of time you might expect symptoms to last:

  • Alcohol: You won’t automatically have alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking. If you have an alcohol dependence, alcohol withdrawal syndrome symptoms can last for days or weeks. If you have symptoms on the severe spectrum of alcohol use disorders, the effects of withdrawal could continue for months after your initial alcohol detox. 
  • Heroin: Heroin is an opioid. Withdrawal symptoms can be intense but not usually deadly. These symptoms for most people last five to seven days and then start to get better. Medication-assisted treatment can be beneficial for physical dependency on heroin in treating unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal and opioid use disorder. 
  • Stimulants: Stimulants are drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Mental symptoms of stimulant withdrawal can include dysphoria, which means a low, unhappy mood and dulled senses. Loss of interest, slow movements, and slow heart rate are also stimulant withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms usually peak within a week after the last dose of a stimulant.

Rarely, post-acute withdrawal (PAWS) symptoms may occur. PAWSs are symptoms that last for longer than two weeks. These symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, mood swings, and poor sleep. PAWS is manageable, usually with a combination of medication and therapy.


Treating Drug Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

While it can be scary to think about withdrawal and especially severe symptoms, treatments are available.

During a medically supervised detox program, health care providers can monitor you and provide you with different medications if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms. For example, there are medications help to treat particular symptoms of withdrawal. There are also FDA-approved medications specifically for withdrawal from opioids and alcohol.

You might simultaneously receive treatment for underlying mental disorders, including behavioral therapies, reducing the likelihood that you have PAWS. 

Getting through detox isn’t easy, but medical care, it increases the chances that you do so successfully to be on the path to recovery. If you’d like to learn more about program options after you’ve completed detox, call 866-600-7709 and reach out to the Anchored Tides Recovery team.

Let’s Quit Abusing Drug Users

Abusing Drug Users

Abusing Drug Users



One of our biggest goals as addiction treatment specialists is to help women who come to us understand that they aren’t a failure because they struggle with drugs or alcohol. Women, in particular, tend to feel such a sense of shame surrounding their addiction. Addiction isn’t a moral failure, but if you let yourself get caught up in feelings of Abusing Drug Users, it’s only going to impede your recovery.

As a society, we should all learn more about addiction, its implications, and what it means for individuals who struggle with it. While there are wonderful, effective, evidence-based treatment options available, they aren’t taken advantage of as they should be.

Stigma and shame are two critical reasons for that.


How Shame Feeds Addiction

There are terms used to label people who struggle with addiction. Those terms and labels are a way to show negative judgment toward people. Using derogatory language when we talk about addiction dates back to when we didn’t know what we do now about the realities of addiction.

  • Addiction was a moral failure in the past. 
  • Being addicted was driven by a lack of willpower, or so people thought. 
  • Punishment was the primary means of rehabilitating people, which, as you can imagine, didn’t turn out to be a practical approach.
  • There was significant prejudice toward not only addiction but also mental health issues.

Now, based on decades of research and clinical studies, we see addiction for what it truly is—a chronic disease.

You wouldn’t shame someone for having heart disease or diabetes, yet some still feel all-too-comfortable shaming someone with a chronic brain disease, which is addiction.

Shame seems to be especially part of the addiction for women. 

  • You may feel like you hate yourself or are not worthy of love or the good things in life.
  • You could feel embarrassed or like your flaws are on display to the world. 
  • Then, that leads you to separate yourself more and more from other people and the world. 
  • This all becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, which is too prevalent in addiction.

You’re stuck in a cycle of shame and self-loathing, worsening and deepening your addiction.

Your loved ones may think shame can help push you into recovery. The reality is that shame is destructive in recovery.

When all of us take the time to learn more about addiction, we can combat barriers that prevent people from getting help.


Homelessness and Addiction

When we talk about judgment and derogatory language directed at people, we often see this in homeless populations. Homelessness is highly visible, yet people experiencing it feel like invisible outsiders. Isolation, vulnerability, and stigma are all elements of homelessness, much as is the case with addiction.

  • When you’re dealing with homelessness, it may prevent you from seeking help. 
  • You may feel too ashamed to enroll in services that could help you find housing or support. 
  • You could feel like if you go to public spaces, you’ll be ridiculed.

So what does homelessness have to do with addiction?

Aside from similar underlying factors contributing to both, there’s also a significant overlap between homelessness and Abusing Drug Users.

  • Homelessness often leads to substance abuse, but substance abuse can also contribute to homelessness. 
  • An estimated 38% of homeless people are dependent on alcohol, and 26% are dependent on other substances. 
  • Being homeless creates conditions that lead to extreme, severe trauma and stress.
  • Homeless people can experience violence, a lack of shelter, and starvation.
  • At least 33% of people who are homeless also have a mental illness. Mental health disorders are a significant contributor to substance abuse as well.

Homeless women experience distinctive gender-based trauma. The rate of mental illness is significantly higher in women than men. 

  • From 50% to 60% of homeless women suffer from mental health disorders, often before their homelessness. 
  • Many women become homeless after suffering trauma like violence or sexual abuse.
  • Some homeless women fled sex trafficking. 
  • Around one-third of homeless women reportedly abuse drugs like crack cocaine and heroin.


Dealing with the Stigma of Addiction

Currently, the stigma of addiction is the number one barrier to effective addiction treatment and recovery. When people do receive evidence-based treatment, the symptoms associated with the stigma of addiction tend to dissipate Abusing Drug Users.

Stigma can impact people in their families and social groups, and it’s also something we see at the community level. 

  • In families, while there may be an understanding that someone has an addiction, it could be whispered about or avoided altogether.
  • At the community or societal level, the stigma of addiction leads to under-diagnosis and under-treatment. 
  • There’s a lack of understanding often even in the medical community compared to other chronic health conditions.

This lack of understanding is unfortunate, considering addiction is one of the biggest public health problems we face in the United States.

Despite our many advances in understanding the science of addiction, the medical community isn’t well-educated on topics surrounding it.



What Are We Doing?

At our treatment center, in addition, to helping women on an individual level without shame but with compassion and scientific understanding, we’re also working on other ways of crushing the stigma of addiction.

We want to bring attention to the people in recovery and show that hope exists. You can recover from these chronic illnesses. You can be a productive part of your family and society. You can have an outstanding quality of life and be a great parent.

Our treatment specialists also want to think about how we diagnose substance use disorders and other mental health conditions. We don’t want to rely on old language or frameworks that could reinforce stigma of Abusing Drug Users.

For example, we often see that women dealing with trauma will quickly be labeled as having a borderline personality disorder. This diagnosis can have roots in the concept of hysteria, which was a label that women tended to receive much more so than men. 

By delving into the history of the treatment of women, in particular, as far as addiction and mental health, we can start to take our steps to combat how that’s led to shame and abuse for marginalized people.

With so many resources available, both in terms of state and community support services and effective treatment like our own programs, we hope to move addiction treatment forward. We hope that we’re part of a movement that encourages us to help one another rather than judge.

The team at Anchored Tides Recovery also wants to help facilitate wider recognition that addiction brain changes are often out of the individuals’ control. Medical care, interventions, and a strong support system are all needed to overcome addiction and prevent complications like an overdose; for help, call 866-600-7709.

The Importance of Exercise and Self-Care

Importance of Exercise

Importance of Exercise


Unfortunately, we often get wrapped up in the concept of exercise as something to do to lose weight or for vanity purposes. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to shed pounds or look your best, we also have to see that the importance of Exercise is truly the ultimate form of self-care.

Exercise is so much more than weight loss or calories. When we commit to regularly moving our bodies, we’re giving ourselves a gift that extends far beyond looking fit in whatever way we enjoy and that works for us.

Moving and getting regular physical activity means you’re prioritizing and valuing yourself and your well-being. It’s excellent for your physical and mental health, and we encourage you to find a routine that feels right to you.

The way you exercise doesn’t have to be what anyone tells you is right. Listen to your mind and your body, and find things that you genuinely enjoy, even if they push you outside your comfort zone or are challenging.


The Physical Benefits of Exercise

There are, of course, physical benefits of regular exercise, including:

  • You can maintain a healthy weight. When you exercise, you burn calories, which can help you maintain your current weight or lose weight. Any amount of activity is better than none, and that’s one of the biggest things to remember.
  • Regular exercise combats or reduces the risk of developing the most common chronic conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. When you exercise regularly, it can help manage or prevent stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, and arthritis.
  • Exercise helps improve your cognitive function.
  • When you get exercise, it helps lower your risk of death from all causes.
  • If you’re low on energy, try moving your body a bit and see how you feel. Movement helps boost your physical strength and endurance. It also brings nutrients and oxygen to your tissues and promotes the more efficient functioning of your cardiovascular system.
  • Are you struggling to sleep at night? Physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, get better quality sleep and enjoy a deeper sleep.
  • There are sexual benefits of exercise. When you work out or move your body, it can improve your confidence and energy levels, benefiting your sex life.
  • You can make it a social activity to exercise by taking a group class or finding someone to walk with.

Your ideal goal should be to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. If you can’t do this right away and you’re new to exercising, that’s okay. Again, do what you can, and something is always better than nothing.

Strength training can also be an important part of staying mentally and physically strong and healthy when you’re ready.



The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

We encourage you to exercise for your mental health as much if not more than your physical health, although the two do work together. Exercise can help you if you’re in substance abuse recovery, and it can also help you deal with the symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, and more.

When you exercise regularly, you’ll feel more positive about yourself in general and improve your well-being.


Exercise and Depression

Studies indicate exercising can help with mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. For example, a study conducted at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found running five minutes a day or walking for an hour lowers the risk of major depression by 26%.

If you receive treatment for depression, adding an exercise schedule to your routine can help you prevent a relapse.

When you’re exercising, it’s creating powerful effects in your brain. Exercise promotes neural growth, reduces inflammation, and develops activity patterns promoting a sense of well-being and calm. 

Endorphins release into your brain, making you feel generally good. You can also break negative thought patterns by distracting yourself with exercise.



A natural, effective anti-anxiety treatment exercise helps relieve the effects of stress and tension. Again, since your body is releasing endorphins, it makes you feel good. You can also get out of your head when you exercise, which can be vital for dealing with anxiety.

When you exercise, try and integrate elements of mindfulness into it too. For example, if you walk outside, notice the things you hear and see around you.


Trauma and PTSD

As you exercise, it helps alleviate the being “stuck” feeling you may have, common with a history of trauma or PTSD. You can get unstuck so that you can then begin to move forward and have reduced PTSD symptoms.


Addiction Recovery

As you exercise during your early days of addiction recovery, it can activate your reward pathway in a natural, healthy way. That reward pathway changes with substance abuse, but exercising can help it re-learn how to function without drugs or alcohol. Since exercise triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin, you’ll feel better. 

Some of the specific ways exercise can help in addiction recovery include:

  • Physical activity may help with symptoms of withdrawal like depression, anxiety, and stress. These are withdrawal symptoms that can otherwise contribute to relapse.
  • Exercise can help distract you from cravings.
  • You can replace your triggers with an exercise routine.
  • It’s prevalent, especially in the early days of detox and recovery, to have sleep problems. Exercise can help you get more high-quality rest.
  • Shame or self-doubt can be part of the aftermath of addiction, but exercising can help raise your self-esteem and also help you have more belief in yourself and your abilities.


Other Benefits of Exercise For Your Mental Health

Other benefits you can experience when you exercise include:

  • Your memory and thinking will be sharper and clearer since it stimulates new brain cells.
  • You’re investing in yourself when you’re exercising, which can help you feel powerful.
  • Resilience is something we talk about a lot in addiction treatment. Exercise is a great way to build on your resilience skills and prepare you to face mental challenges in your life in a healthy, productive way.


Commit to Self-Care

We encourage you to commit to caring for yourself. Let go of what might hold you back from exercising, such as guilt that you’re not dedicating that time to other things or intimidation. The first step is the hardest, but you’re already showing yourself that you are worth the time and the commitment to get more active once you do that. For help living a healthy life after drugs and alcohol, call 866-600-7709 and let the team at Anchored Tides Recovery be part of your support squad!

What is Addiction?

what is addiction

what is addiction


Addiction is widely misunderstood, even though it touches so many of us, whether it be directly or indirectly. When you have an addiction, your brain experiences a chronic dysfunction in reward, motivation, and memory systems. 

Your body begins to crave a specific substance or even a behavior because of these brain changes. Despite the harmful consequences, you continue to use addictive drugs. 

As much as understanding what addiction is can be helpful, it’s also important to know what it’s not. For example, addiction isn’t a choice, nor is it a moral failure.


An Overview of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disorder that affects someone’s brain and behavior. When you have an addiction, you can’t stop using a substance such as drugs or alcohol or engaging in behavior like gambling, even though it’s causing harm in your life.

According to The American Society of Addiction Medicine, it’s a chronic medical disease involving complex interactions between your brain, genetics, your environment, and your life experiences. While addictive disorders are a chronic condition that doesn’t necessarily have a “cure,” it is treatable. You can manage the symptoms.

If you have a chronic disease like diabetes, the concept is similar. You may not be able to cure the underlying condition, but it’s manageable with different therapies, medications, and lifestyle changes. When your symptoms are under control from a chronic illness, it’s known as being in remission.

When you have a substance use disorder that’s well-managed and not active, you’re in recovery.  

Some of the most addictive substances and illicit drugs include:

  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine


Symptoms of Addiction

Addiction tends to create symptoms that fall into one of three broader categories. There are cravings, loss of control, and continuing to use the substance despite adverse consequences.

Physical signs of addiction can vary depending on the substance used but may include:

  • Being under- or overactive
  • Repetitive or unusual speech patterns
  • Dilated pupils
  • Red eyes
  • Pale skin
  • Sniffly or runny nose
  • Clothes aren’t fitting the same
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Lack of personal hygiene

Behavioral addiction signs can include:

  • Irritability or defensiveness
  • Problems coping with stress
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Changes in social groups or social withdrawal
  • Confused easily
  • Justification for behavior
  • Minimization
  • Blaming other people or events for substance use or effects
  • Diversion, meaning often changing the subject to avoid talking about substance use
  • Missing school or work
  • Declining performance at school or work
  • Isolation or being secretive
  • Legal or financial problems
  • Relationship problems


What Causes Addiction?

We’ve learned so much since the 1930s when researchers first started looking at the causes of addictive behavior. Before this research, the old way of thinking was that if you had an addiction, you didn’t have the willpower, or you were morally flawed. That incorrect thinking led to ineffective treatment approaches to dealing with addiction.

For example, punishment or trying to force someone to break their habits were common strategies.

Now, scientific advancements help us understand again, addiction is a chronic disease altering the brain, one of our most important organs. Like cardiovascular disease affects your heart, addiction takes over your brain.

Research guides addiction treatment programs and mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders in practical ways. 

Some of the steps that can occur in the development of addiction include:

  • Your brain registers pleasure as something it wants to seek out and continue to experience. Pleasure can come from natural sources, such as sex or having a great meal. Pleasure can also stem from the effects of psychoactive drugs and alcohol.
  • When you experience something pleasurable, your brain releases a neurotransmitter—dopamine. Dopamine floods into your brain’s pleasure and reward center—the nucleus accumbens.
  • Since the use of drugs or alcohol can be a dopamine-triggering event, there’s a compulsion for your brain to want to continue it.
  • It’s not only the pleasure element that can lead to addiction. Dopamine is one part of the process, but so are learning and memory. Learning and memory play pivotal roles in moving from thinking something is appealing to developing an addiction.
  • Repeated exposure to an addictive substance causes nerve cells in not only your nucleus accumbens but also the prefrontal cortex to communicate in a way that makes you want to continue it. You have a sense of motivation to keep seeking out pleasurable stimuli.
  • Eventually, compulsion will take over. The pleasure you associate with an addictive substance goes away, but you still have the memory of the desired effect. You keep wanting to recreate it. Compulsion leads to out control cravings but is drug addiction a moral failing?

Certain factors such as a family history of addiction can make you more likely to develop a substance use disorder. Mental health issues can also raise the risk of drug misuse and substance abuse issues. 



Are There Treatments for Addiction?

Substance abuse treatment is available, although it’s not always straightforward. The goals of any treatment for drug or alcohol addiction are to help you stop using drugs, remain drug-free, and be productive in your family, at your job, and in society.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, evidence-based addiction treatment should include the following:

  • Addiction is managed as a complex although treatable disease affecting behavior and brain function
  • There’s no single treatment that’s right for everyone
  • You need easy and timely access to treatment 
  • Effective treatment addresses all of your needs as a whole person, and not just your drug or alcohol use
  • You must stay in treatment for long enough
  • Behavioral therapy and counseling are the most commonly used types of treatment
  • Medications can be an essential part of treatment, particularly combined with behavioral therapy
  • A counselor should regularly review your kind of treatment plan and, if necessary, change to fit your evolving needs
  • Effective addiction treatment should address other co-occurring mental disorders you may have
  • Medically-assisted detoxification isn’t treatment in and of itself—it’s the first stage of treatment
  • Your drug addiction treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary for it to be effective
  • Effective alcohol rehab or drug treatment should address criminal behavior, infectious disease, or other related situations. 

Treatment can take place in different formats and settings for a substance use disorder. For example, there are inpatient and outpatient programs available at treatment facilities. An inpatient program is more intensive and requires a residential stay. Outpatient treatment can be a lower level of care after inpatient rehab. You might also begin your treatment there. 


Does Health Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment?

Since a substance use disorder is a medical condition, in many cases, your health insurance company will cover some or all of the costs of addiction treatment, including medication-assisted treatment. In 2010 with the passing of the Affordable Care Act (2010), a mandate required that insurance companies and insurance plans cover the same level of coverage for addiction treatment and mental health disorders as they do for other medical conditions.

If you aren’t sure what your insurance will cover as far as addiction treatment providers and essential health benefits, the best thing you can do is contact them directly. They can let you know your health coverage and the treatment options available to you. The team at our treatment center can also help you with insurance-related questions as they specifically apply to our center.

The big takeaway that you should remember is that addiction is a chronic and also progressive disease. Untreated, it will get worse and cause more severe side effects. Effective treatments are available, however, and are accessible to you. Insurance policies will often cover the cost of treatment, including inpatient rehab. To learn more about the women-only outpatient treatment program at Anchored Tides Recovery, call 866-600-7709 today!