Currently one of the most important physical and mental health problems is chemical dependency. According to the World Health Organization, it is a condition that as a whole is characterized by presenting physiological, cognitive and behavioral phenomena . These are associated with the habitual and repetitive use of a particular substance.

It can be said that you must first create a chemical dependency to later be an addict. This is the genesis of addictions that are generated from psychoactive substances or a broader group of pharmacological substances of different kinds. Its characteristics, causes and limits are analyzed below.

What is chemical dependency? 

Chemical dependency is a term often used when dealing with drug addiction. However, it is a much broader issue in which multiple internal and external aspects converge. The most remarkable thing is the need to consume any type of substance compulsively. It is a condition that can be classified as a type of mental and also physical disorder.

It refers to obsessive behavior , it makes a difference between a before and an after. This means that the patient develops a specific dependence on a type of chemical substance, this will provide the desired effects. These are generally recreational drugs, but misuse will eventually lead to long-term negative changes.

Experts consider that it is a chronic disease that has no cure , but it can be adequately managed through the treatments that best suit the needs of the patient. Unfortunately, it is a condition that currently has high rates of misinformation. Its symptoms can have multiple repercussions on physical and mental health.

What are their characteristics? 

It can be described from different points of view, for most specialists in this subject, it is a chronic disease that can be treated. That is, you should consider addressing the changes in behavior that develop progressively first . This means that the patient’s body will eventually adapt to the drug on which it depends.

For some others it is a mental disorder that is associated with the use of substances such as drugs and alcohol. Specifically, mention is made of illicit drugs, which have a greater possibility of creating addiction. At present it is marketed with drugs that have highly harmful effects on health, the so-called “synthetic drugs” stand out.

Both legal and illegal substances must be regulated under strict safety regulations for their consumption. It has become a problem of global concern, in some nations the consumption rates have increased considerably. 

It is important to understand the difference between the terms addiction, habituation and dependence. In the latter case, a dependent person is one who is not capable of controlling the use and development of an election . Consequently, the patient will have to face important clinical changes, which in turn will affect the functioning of the brain organ.

It is unfortunate how many myths have been created around this condition. Chemical dependency is a disease that can affect anyone, it is not about lack of character or will. Nor is it a problem related to bad behavior or rudeness.

It is a problem that is created from multiple factors that coincide with each other. The most important element is the propensity to react to the effects of a specific chemical. That is, some individuals are more sensitive to developing a life-long dependency, which limits them to only being able to function under the effects of the chemical consumed.

Causes of chemical dependency

A dependency can be created from different interactions. In the case of chemical dependency, it can start from the first use , although this is not a fixed rule. Some patients already have a certain predisposition to develop a chemical dependency, in other cases it will depend on the number of uses.

The sum of all these factors that increase risk must be taken into account, they are: biological, psychological and social . Up next, each of the preview are described:

  • In the biological aspects , the inheritance transmitted from parents to children is included. Genetics play an important role because the body will be predisposed to metabolize certain substances in a specific way. That is to say. There are people who have greater tolerance compared to others. When you stop consuming, withdrawal syndromes appear.
  • In the psychological aspects , mention is made of patients who face difficulties in relation to childhood trauma, depression, anxiety, frustration and inability to solve problems. There are multiple mental factors that are directly or indirectly related to this type of dependency. Each clinical case is different so a definitive answer cannot be provided.
  • In social aspects, aspects such as education, religion, traditions and even more abstract aspects are taken into account. Multiple elements converge that are part of the environment in which the patient is a participant, these can favor or facilitate the use of a substance.

The incidence of the media can make people start consuming alcohol or cigarettes for example. Social factors are so diverse that any one of them can even create other associated alternate problems; such as violence within the home or bullying at school. This is how patients dependent on the long-term use of prescription drugs begin to develop dependence.

What are its limits? 

The limits on chemical dependency are partly determined by the type of substance that is consumed. In most cases, dependence on psychoactive drugs is created , their effects are highly harmful and create drastic changes in mental activity. In turn, they activate a greater release of dopamine, which is why a pleasant sensation is produced that the patient constantly seeks to recreate.

The type of substances that are most consumed in these cases are synthetic drugs , this group includes amphetamines, ecstasy and LSD. They are characterized by being produced in the laboratory, although cocaine and crack can also be considered; that are created from natural narcotics.

Excessive drug use can cause an overdose. The limits are established by the patient , because the effects are attenuated as the consumption is more habitual. The tendency to increase the dose in order to experience the same sensation diffuses the deadly limit of consumption. The body and its system are weakened by the continuous interaction and no longer able to support it.

At first, the consumption of any type of substance provides well-being and happiness. But eventually these initial effects begin to create negative repercussions both mentally and physically and socially. The patient begins to have a distorted vision of his own reality , this is a factor that influences his family and social relationships.

It is remarkable how the functioning of brain activity begins to suffer irreversible damage. That is why the patient will stop being able to think and reason clearly , there is a greater probability of suffering some type of mental disorder. Also, other organs begin to present problems for their normal functioning, the immune system weakens making it more prone to contragious diseases.

What to do if I have a chemical dependency? 

It is considered to be a chronic disease that does not have a definitive cure . In this case you can control the symptoms and impulses that make you prone to continue with the obsessive use of a particular substance. The objective is to avoid relapses and, if possible, to restore normal and independent functioning.

It is important to understand and be aware that the patient has already developed a chemical dependency condition. That is to say, there will always be a tendency to behave in this way and, therefore, the symptoms of subsequent withdrawal should be addressed when stopping consuming. Psychotherapy and psychological help often provide the most appropriate means of achieving favorable changes.

This treatment can also be seen as an indirect means of preventing future relapses. The most remarkable thing is that the patient will learn practices that will help him to cope with the situation. This is how you will be able to be decisive and independent in your decisions and future actions.

It could be considered that the most delicate phase of the treatment is detoxification , during this period the patient’s body will face withdrawal. The most advisable thing is the hospitalization, to be able to control the secondary effects that the substances cause in different levels of intensity.

In addition, multidisciplinary help should be provided by applying cognitive and behavioral techniques. In this way, the interventions will focus on developing more positive behaviors, replacing the negative ones. Health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists are the most appropriate, they will determine the best way to achieve the patient’s reintegration into society.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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