Before a person is ready to enter an inpatient substance abuse treatment center, they need to recognize that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. This can be difficult for many people, since it is common for addicts to believe that they are in control of their substance abuse problem, when in reality it is controlling them. Recently, The Scranton Times-Tribune, a Pennsylvania news source, published an article about a symposium on substance abuse in Northeast Pennsylvania called “Substance Abuse: Recognition and Resources.” According to the news source, the symposium will focus on what drives people to addiction, as well as the importance of recognizing a drug problem.
The event is part of The Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton’s Keystone Symposium, where the school develops two programs a year that address significant public health concerns. The news source spoke to TCMC student Luana Hossain, who looked into research on the neurology of self-control and substance abuse. During the course of her research, she found that neuroscientist William Hedgcock, Ph.D., has found that – contrary to popular belief – it is possible to exhaust the part of the brain associated with self-control, to the point where a person may become more susceptible to addiction. She explained that the phrase “I know I really shouldn’t, but I’m going to anyway,” is a common sign of self-control depletion.
Self-control is not enough
Hossain explained that the study shows that relying only on self-control to give up drugs and alcohol may not be enough, since it may simply wear down the brain’s willpower. However, there have been findings that suggest that the right kind of motivation can help overcome self-control fatigue.
For example, Hossain said that a 2012 review in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that one good way to overcome addiction or avoid doing drugs in the first place is to get to the root of the matter. This means thinking about all the reasons why the particular substance could harm health. Also, it is a good idea for people to make their motivation to stop doing drugs personal by associating quitting with something that makes them feel a strong emotional response, such as thinking of the well-being of their children.
Another good strategy is for people to identify all the possible temptations they may encounter during the day, and map out a plan for how they can avoid them.
Recognizing a drug problem
Before people can take the above steps to regain control over their life and stop using drugs or alcohol, they need to recognize that they have a problem involving these substances in the first place. The Mayo Clinic has listed some of the symptoms of a drug or alcohol problem that people should take into consideration if they are unsure whether they are going down a dangerous path. For example, if people feel as though they have to use a certain illicit substance regularly – whether it is once a day or several times a day – this is a sign of a problem. Furthermore, when people find that they are spending money on drugs and alcohol when they cannot afford other things, it could also be an indicator of a serious issue.
Finally, another major red flag is when people drive or perform other potentially risky behaviors when they are under the influence of an illicit substance. If people feel as though they may be exhibiting any of the signs of a drug problem, they should contact an addiction treatment center and request to speak to a counselor who can help.