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Help Is Available for Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

No one knows exactly why some people get addicted to drugs while others do not. However, some contributing factors are clear. There is likely a strong genetic component to some forms of addiction (meaning that vulnerability to becoming an addict can run in families, and be inherited from your parents and grandparents). There is also much evidence suggesting that whether or not people develop addiction problems has a lot to do with experiences they have in childhood and as they are growing up. Abuse in varying forms (sexual, emotional, physical, or neglect), exposure to trauma, being a child of addicted parents, or being a victim of severe life stressors can all help push people into addictions. Some evidence also suggests that people experiencing mental illness-related difficulties (such as anxiety, depression, perfectionism, thought disorder and a host of other conditions) may use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to manage their symptoms; a situation called 'self medication'. Whatever its cause, addiction is an equal opportunity disease. People of all races, religions, ethnicities, classes and social-economic strata get addicted. It is truly a 'human' problem.

Help for addiction is available. For all the many people out there who are actively using drugs and alcohol, there are many others who have struggled with addiction and won a personal victory, on a day by day temporary basis to be sure, but a victory never the less. Help is available in the form of medical attention, medications, psychotherapy, self help groups, and spirituality, but it is only there for the addict who desires it enough to work for it. You can lead an addict to treatment but you can't make him (or her) stick with recovery.

The very first step towards recovery from alcohol or drug addiction is available to you (in part) at this very website in the form of educational materials. The articles in this topic center can help you learn the answer to important questions such as:

  • What are the drugs of abuse?
  • By what mechanism do drugs cause their effects?
  • How do I know if I'm addicted to a drug or alcohol?
  • How would my doctor go about diagnosing drug or alcohol dependence?
  • What are treatments, medications and support groups for drug and/or alcohol addiction are out there and how do they work?

We also provide links to numerous drug and alcohol related websites, and point you to books concerned with drug and alcohol addiction and recovery.

Read on to educate yourself about this most common and terrible of human problems.


Reader Comments

Blackout and Violent behaviour - Jackson - Apr 2nd 2013

Hi, I normally think that I can control my intake off alcohol,but lie to myself. I'm much more on ease when I take alcohol. Alot of stuffs trigger me, as what happened in the past, then I start to act funny. I want more beer and crave for weed. no-one should tell me. I'm at a high level and would do anything silly. the next thing is I would hit a blackout and would not remember anything. I would feel down and everyone would look at me with dispair.

I'm afriad that something bad will happen oneday that I would regret for the rest off my life. I'm a very quiet  person when sober. I've been to rehab for three weeks, but now I'm more depandent on alcohol then anything else espacialy weekends for I'm not drinking during the week.

Is there still help? 

for some life is just a bit of a struggle - mad dog geordie john - May 29th 2008

what more can i say ???

not sure which side of the debate your coming from i.e. egg or chicken...are self abusers acting for selfish pleasure or have they been "damaged?" and are destined to continue self destructive behavoiur?

i dont mean to be having a go at you, coz it would be easy for me to blame my crappy un happy adolescence, as the reason for my addictive character. but hey i iether take crappy meds that have working life-spans or i stop hating myself, dressing in the guilty kings robes everyday (leading to stinkin thinkin) and wondring why i feel outa place in public wearing ridicolous clothes.

ive grown very very sceptical of the mental health bodies, am coming round to the fact that that, oh whats the friggin point you know. all this HAVING to Fit In....dont stand out coz "the nail that stands out gets hammered down" ok cest la vie, lets not try and change the colour of the sea, coz it doesnt match my prada jeans and paul smith jacket.....zzzzz

well just thought id pass on the comments of a holyfuckwit, for what reason, mmh thats another few paragraphs ;)

i really think that a more accommodating attitude needs to be forged. bloody hell i dont wanna live another 40 yrs, esp the way the world is collapsing. as for the depression, i've had since 14-15.

really only untill i was told i had hep c about 4 yrs ago...i'd always hated the fact that i never fitted in, but i wanted to. now i accept it, in the same way i realise no meds will make me a hiliarous womanising cad. mores the shame :( bugga. but ive lived and seen a canny bit of the world, ups and downs.

well must go, gotta make bloody DR appt, the efexor doesnt and hasnt been working for about 9 months now. the future looks bloody grim. well guess its cocktail hour.

Inner Child - Patrick - Nov 10th 2006
Inner Child therapy. What is it? As the title indicates, this is a method of therapy wherein the Inner Child (We all have one!) can be accessed, and negative conditionings, traumas, etc gently and positively can be addressed. The Child within all of us is a delightful part of us, a spontaneous, mischievous, sparkling part of our personality. The contra aspect is that the child within can throw tantrums, behave unreasonably or inappropriately. Unless there has been childhood trauma and damage, the child within is secondary to the adult personality and controlled by the adult will. If there has been trauma or damage in childhood, the spontaneous part of us is damaged, and cannot found outlet, depriving us of the enjoyment and fun that brings. If there has been negative conditioning in childhood, i.e. the child continually told he/she is "Stupid", "hopeless", or "you will never amount to much " etc the adult will always have low self esteem/worth, and never believe they Can achieve; if they do achieve, they will class it as an accident, or a lucky mistake etc. It is important to replace negative childhood conditioning with positive, and to allow the adult personality/will to be in control, not the damaged and defensive childesChildhood traumas are often ignored, or swept under the carpet, by adults around them, more particularly so for adults in mid life stage today. Family bereavements etc were seldom explained to children a few years ago, therefore the child's feelings were never validated, or dealt with. The self worth again is diminished and shadow areas within the psyche established at that stage. Unless these ARE brought out into the light, looked at and dealt with, they can be crippling in that the bearer may never achieve their full potential. Childhood abuse of any kind can also be dealt with and much of the fear, low self-esteem, inhibition and sadness lifted.Inner child work is a powerful tool indeed and frees and releases hidden agenda areas within that perpetuate into life long unhappiness if not dealt with.A good therapist in this area will work sensitively and positively (to re-traumatize is not to heal), providing the client really wishes to loose the "Victim" label. "Victim" is a miserable banner to live life under!!