An addiction is an urge to do something that is hard to control or stop. If you use cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs like marijuana (weed), cocaine, and heroin, you could become addicted to them. They can really hurt you and could even kill you.
Substance abuse is connected to many health issues such as lung or heart disease, mental illness, lowered immune systems, and cancer.
The use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs can lead to many health problems including cancer. On the other hand, those who have cancer and use prescription opioids for pain management run the risk of developing a drug addiction.
According to research, substance abuse and addiction make up about 30% of all cancer deaths. Tobacco, for example, is linked to 80% of all lung cancer deaths.
There is also strong evidence showing that alcohol consumption can lead to various types of cancers, with most being a form of oral, liver, and colon cancer.
In addition, illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin often get mixed with cancer-causing cutting agents. Addiction to illicit drugs increases cancer risk and even more when mixed with other carcinogenic substances such as tobacco and alcohol. The use of drugs, prescribed or not, can increase the risk of developing different types of cancer.
The risk of addiction and how fast you become addicted does vary. As time passes, you may need larger doses to get high. Soon you may need it just to feel good.
As your addiction increases, you may find that it’s increasingly difficult to go without it. Attempts to stop use may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).
You may need help from your doctor, family, friends, support groups or an organized treatment program to overcome your addiction.
De-addiction requires change of a complete lifestyle, but for a person or loved one of someone who is considering treatment or is early in recovery, a life free from addiction may feel like a million miles away, especially if you’re unsure what to expect throughout the process.
There are six main stages of change in addiction recovery:
- Pre-contemplationIn the first stages of addiction recovery, a person usually does not consider their behavior to be an issue. Perhaps they’ve not experienced any adverse consequences as a result of their behavior, or they’re in denial about the severity of their behavior and the consequences they’ve experienced.During this stage, a person’s addictive behavior is generally positive, maybe even pleasant, and hasn’t led to any negative consequences. At this point, they aren’t interested in hearing advice to quit or being told about potentially harmful side effects. A2. ContemplationContemplators have realized that they have a problem. They may want to change, but don’t feel like they can fully commit to it. In this stage, a person is often more receptive to learning about the potential consequences of their behavior and the different options available.
But they’re still contemplating. They haven’t yet made a change by committing to a specific strategy. The contemplation stage can last for years. Sometimes, they move on to the next stage, or they revert to pre-contemplation.
a person is committed and ready to take action. They might meet with a health care professional to assess where they are and determine options for a long-term treatment plan.
Real change–that is, a change in behavior–starts at this stage. For many people, the action stage begins in a detox or residential treatment center where clinical and medical professionals can navigate a person through the early stages of recovery.
In this stage, a person will engage in treatment that addresses the underlying causes of addiction. Individual and group therapy help a person better understand addiction and themselves, and alternative, complementary therapies promote holistic wellness, bolstering recovery. The action stage will also equip a person with healthy, effective strategies for coping with stress and triggers that help them progress through the maintenance stage without experiencing relapse.
5. Maintenance & Relapse
it takes time and effort to sustain any change. In the maintenance stage, a person begins to adapt to their new substance-free lifestyle. As they build momentum, reverting to old habits gradually becomes less of a threat.
However, substance use disorder is a chronic disease. As with all chronic diseases, the risk of relapse will always be present. Despite acquiring the skills and tools in the action stage necessary to avoid relapse, a relapse may still occur. But it isn’t a sign of failure or weakness. It’s possible to become sober again–it just means more specialized treatment is required.
The ultimate goal for the stages of change is termination: when a person with substance use disorder no longer feels threatened by their substance of choice. At this stage, they feel confident and comfortable living life without substances and fear relapse less and less every day.
The stages of change may seem intimidating to someone who is contemplating or early in recovery. But knowing what you can expect can help you advance through these stages more confidently. Permanent recovery is possible.