How do I say no to my loved one?

An effective answer to give your loved one is “I will support your recovery, but I will not support your disease.”

Does a relapse mean there’s no hope?

We don’t like the term “relapse” because it comes with so much negative meaning. What we’re really talking about is a reoccurrence of symptoms of the disease.  Many people suffering from any chronic illness, like diabetes, will experience a reoccurrence at some point, given the way these diseases work and the fact that they have to be carefully managed over a lifetime.

The first thing to know is that reoccurrence or ‘relapse’ is not a reason to lose hope – it doesn’t mean that the person can’t get well. Usually a reoccurrence means that something is not working in the treatment or addiction management plan and it’s time to reevaluate and try something else.

Does addiction treatment work?

Yes, structured treatment has very positive recovery rates, especially with family support. Addiction is a treatable disease. Discoveries in the science of addiction have led to medications that may help some people stop abusing drugs or alcohol and resume their productive lives. Combining treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. And, research is beginning to show that recovery of brain function may be possible with prolonged abstinence.

Why is addiction a disease?

More than 70 years of studies, including highly advanced brain studies, has found out that addiction is a disease. People suffering from addiction have changed brain functions. When the disease takes over, these changes in the brain eat away a person’s self-control and ability to make healthy decisions, while sending highly intense desires to take drugs. This helps explain the obsessive and negative behavior around addiction.

Why is addiction a “chronic” disease?

A chronic disease is a long-lasting illness that can be managed but not cured. Chronic diseases with similarities to addiction include type II diabetes, heart diseases, depression and asthma. The bottom line is that people suffering from addiction can’t be cured or get well after a few day stay in treatment. Getting well from addiction requires a lifelong commitment to disease management and wellness.

Does addiction have similarities to other chronic diseases?

Addiction is a chronic disease similar to other chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Drug addiction shares many features with other chronic illnesses, including a tendency to run in families (heritability), an onset and course that is influenced by environmental conditions and behavior, and the ability to respond to appropriate treatment, which may include long-term lifestyle modification.

How is addiction diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with addiction, you must meet criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and used by doctors, mental health professionals and other health providers to diagnose mental health conditions.

Addiction is also referred to as “substance use disorder.” The illness is defined on a continuum from mild to severe based on the condition and criteria. Mild substance use disorder requires two to three symptoms from a list of 11.

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