What is chemical dependency?
Chemical dependency describes the abuse of alcohol or drugs which causes significant distress for their users. It refers to the tolerance to a substance or the existence of symptoms of withdrawal when the substance is not used. Addiction often follows chemical dependency.
What are signs of chemical dependency?
- Development of tolerance so that increased amounts are needed to achieve the desired effect
- Withdrawal symptoms following elimination of use
- Spending lots of time using, obtaining, or recovering from the substance
- Isolating and not spending time in social activities
- Continued use of the substance even though you are aware of the psychological, physical, and social problems that are associated with it
- Craving the substance
- Taking risks
How do I know if my chemical dependency has turned into addiction?
Some common effects of addiction include:
- Lying to loved ones
- Becoming obsessed with the substance
- Personality changes
- Struggling with work or school
- Priority changes
What are the treatment options for chemical dependency?
Reach out for help if you feel that you or a loved one has developed a chemical dependency. Counseling can help you focus on the problem and eventually lessen and eliminate substance use. Psychological dependency on a substance can be harder to break than the physical dependency. Improving coping skills can help someone with a chemical dependency develop better problem solving skills and learn to deal with stress without substance use. Both inpatient and outpatient options are available to help those struggling with chemical dependency. Following detoxification, individual and family therapy are often helpful to understand the underlying issues that may have contributed to the development of the dependency.
How do I know if a loved one has developed a chemical dependency?
It can be hard to know if your loved ones are struggling with a chemical dependency. Common indicators include:
- Problems at work or school
- Lack of energy
- Weight changes
- Red eyes
- Neglecting one’s appearance
- Changes in behavior such as being secretive
- Requesting or stealing money from you
If you think your loved one has developed a chemical dependency, talk to them about it and encourage them to seek treatment. Express how much you care for them in a heart to heart conversation and let them know you are there if they need support.
How can I prevent my child from misusing substances?
- Communicate with your child about possible risks associated with substance use
- Listen to your child and be supportive
- Encourage your child to resist peer pressure
- Do not misuse alcohol or drugs yourself, as children whose parents misuse substances are at a greater risk for misusing them
- Work on strengthening your relationship with your child
How do I prevent a relapse in chemical dependency?
Continue seeing a counselor even after you have become drug-free. Sticking to your treatment plan can help you stay drug-free. Stay away from neighborhoods that you used to get your drugs, as well as people you got them from. If you begin using a substance again, contact a medical professional or someone that can help you as soon as possible.
This is the website for the national helpline for substance abuse and mental health services
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