Search: an exploration of addiction

Our series has taken a closer look at the temptations of adolescent life and how experimentation and excess as young adults can feed substance use disorders. Sometimes trauma can push someone across the very thin line between a casual drug habit and addiction.

As adults, we face endless challenges. Stress is a part of life and how we respond can propel us towards a life of perseverance and success or towards engaging in risky self-medication through drug and alcohol use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “stress can play a major role in beginning drug use, continuing drug abuse, or relapse in patients recovering from addiction.”

Life can also come with unwanted experiences like childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and many other life-altering events. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network says that “people develop substance abuse problems in an attempt to manage distress associated with the effects of trauma exposure and traumatic stress symptoms.”

According to research from the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there is a strong correlation between trauma and substance abuse. For those who have experienced trauma and struggle with some form of PTSD or related anxiety disorder, they may ask themselves if life would be easier if lived through the end of a pipe or the bottom of a bottle. Addiction is pigeonholed as a result of immaturity or reckless decision making. It’s not that simple; science shows that addiction is a brain disease. Drugs literally change how the brain works. These lifelong changes can lead to harmful behavior by those caught in the vicious cycle of substance abuse.

Addiction experts suggest that often-times substance use disorders are rooted in trauma experienced early in an individual’s life. Those who are vulnerable to developing substance use disorders appear to follow similar patterns of why they abuse drugs or alcohol, which include:

  • Feel safe
  • Escape memories
  • Soothe pain
  • Be in control
  • Create a world you can tolerate
  • Treat yourself the way you feel you deserve
  • Redefine who you are

Life is filled with daunting choices and difficult events—and despite all of its complexity—we’re lucky to experience rewarding relationships and experiences. Victims of childhood trauma however, are more likely to experiment with drugs during young adulthood and susceptible to substance use disorders in adult life—especially when they lack a support network. What does that full blown addiction look like from the perspective of an addict and a loved one? Stay tuned to our addiction series as we continue to examine this growing societal issue.

If you or someone you know is unable to stop using drugs or alcohol, seek a referral from your primary care physician or locate an addiction specialist through the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

An Exploration of Addiction: Young Adults

by Pablo Bolanos on June 27, 2017

In the previous installment of our Exploration of Addiction series, we examined the adolescent years and how access, curiosity, and a number of other factors can influence adolescent drug and alcohol use. We now turn our attention to a demographic that is sometimes synonymous with excess, experimentation, and substance-abuse: young adulthood.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, college-age drinking is perceived by many young adults as a core part of their life. Casual or recreational drinking is one aspect of the experience; however binge drinking can create problematic behavior with sometimes unforgiving consequences.

More than one-third of full-time college students aged 18-22 engaged in binge drinking in the past month, with approximately 1 in 5 using an illicit drug in the same period of time according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Research reveals exactly how damaging this new age of personal discovery can be if drugs and alcohol abuse takes hold:

  • One in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking
  • About 97,000  students between ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
  • An estimated 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder
  • Approximately 1,800 college students between ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, like car accidents

In addition to increased alcohol use and binge drinking during early adulthood, experimentation with drugs also increases. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that drug use is highest among people in their late teens and twenties. Of all age demographics, this group corresponded to 21 percent of reported drug use in the past month.

What does this mean to the future of those young-adults that partake in this troubling trend? If left unchecked, this group is at greater risk of developing a substance-abuse disorder as they enter the workforce, typically the next stage in their lives. Understandably, employers are unlikely to hire job candidates or tolerate employees who abuse drugs or alcohol. For this reason, it’s crucial for those closest to young adults to watch for signs of a budding substance-abuse disorder and intervene as soon as possible. Thankfully, many resources such as Partnership for Drug-Free Kids can help to facilitate conversations when drug and alcohol abuse is suspected.

In the end, prevention efforts centered on education and open lines of communication are essential to divert risky and dangerous behavior before it becomes life altering. To learn more about this blog series, read our introductory post.

If you or someone you know is unable to stop using drugs or alcohol, seek a referral from your primary care physician or locate an addiction specialist through the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Read more about how drug abuse affects the workplace, visit our website or contact us online.

An Exploration of Addiction: The Teen Years

May 5, 2017An Exploration of Addiction

Recreational drug and alcohol use is oftentimes perceived as harmless, non-habit-forming behavior. In reality millions suffer from substance-abuse disorders that surfaced under the mask of recreational use. In this installment of our Exploration of Addiction series, we examine how addiction can take hold when our brains are at their most vulnerable and when life is […]

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Series: An Exploration of Addiction

March 21, 2017Blog Series

The term “recreational” defines as an activity done for enjoyment when one is not working. Skiing, knitting, sporting leagues, and book clubs are examples of recreational activities that can enhance our overall life experience. Recreational is also a word used to describe the casual use of mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol. Because recreational […]

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Addiction Recovery: A Celebration of Life

September 6, 2017Drugs & Alcohol

“Recovery makes me feel like that empty space in my heart is finally filled. I have the motivation and drive that I have never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I believe I have a purpose, and I am so much more than just a hopeless junkie sentenced to a life of […]

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