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
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
Struggling with work or school
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
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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