4.3.2 If You Are Addicted

If You Are Addicted #

How do you know if you are addicted? If you are asking this question, it is extremely likely that you have a problem, in which case, do not skip or skim this section.

The commonly suggested approaches to address addiction are:

  • Cold Turkey
  • Tapering
  • Psychedelic Intervention
  • Professional and Medical Help
  • Rehab

There may be others, but regardless, there is no one-size-fits-all. The best solution for you will depend largely upon your unique characteristics and situation. The one thing you must not do, however, is nothing.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the U.S. Department of Health, offers a wealth of information on its website. The following was extracted from an introductory Q&A. Note that this can be reproduced without permission (although as a matter of courtesy I did ask).

Why can’t I stop using drugs on my own? #

Repeated drug use changes the brain, including parts of the brain that enable you to exert self-control. These and other changes can be seen clearly in brain imaging studies of people with drug addictions.

If I want help, where do I start? #

Asking for help is the first important step. Visiting your doctor for a possible referral to treatment is one way to do it. You can ask if he or she is comfortable discussing drug abuse screening and treatment. If not, ask for a referral to another doctor. You can also contact an addiction specialist. It takes a lot of courage to seek help for a drug problem because there is a lot of hard work ahead. However, treatment can work, and people recover from addiction every day. Like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed successfully. Treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s powerful, disruptive effects on brain and behavior and regain control of their lives.

Will they make me stop taking drugs immediately? #

The first step in treatment is “detox,” which helps patients to remove all of the drugs from their system. This is important, because drugs impair the mental abilities you need to stay in treatment. When patients first stop abusing drugs, they can experience a variety of physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders; restlessness; and sleeplessness. Treatment centers are very experienced in helping you get through this process and keeping you safe. Depending on what drug you are addicted to, there may also be medications that will make you feel a little better during drug withdrawal, which makes it easier to stop using.

What kind of counseling should I get? #

Behavioral treatment (also known as “talk therapy”) helps patients engage in the treatment process, change their attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse, and increase healthy life skills. These treatments can also enhance the effectiveness of medications and help people stay in treatment longer. Treatment for drug abuse and addiction can be delivered in many different settings using a variety of behavioral approaches.

Will I need medication? #

There are medications available to treat addictions to alcohol, nicotine, and opioids (heroin and pain relievers). Other medications are available to treat possible mental health conditions (such as depression) that may be contributing to your addiction. In addition, nonaddictive medication is sometimes prescribed to help with drug withdrawal. When medication is available, it can be combined with behavioral therapy to ensure success for most patients. Your treatment provider will advise you on what medications are available for your particular situation.

I take drugs because I feel depressed *nothing else seems to work. If I stop, I’ll feel much worse—how do I deal with that? #

It is very possible you need to find treatment for both depression and addiction. This is very common. It’s called “comorbidity,” “co-occurrence,” or “dual diagnosis” when you have more than one health problem at the same time. It is important that you discuss all of your symptoms and behaviors with your doctor. There are many nonaddictive drugs that can help with depression or other mental health issues. Sometimes health care providers do not communicate with each other as well as they should, so you can be your own best advocate and make sure all of your health providers know about all of the health issues that concern you. People who have co-occurring issues should be treated for all of them at the same time.

How can I talk to others with similar problems? #

Self-help groups can extend the effects of professional treatment. The most well-known self-help groups are those affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Cocaine Anonymous (CA), all of which are based on the 12-step model. Most drug addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in a self-help group during and after formal treatment. These groups can be particularly helpful during recovery, as they are a source of ongoing communal support to stay drug free.

The following bullet point list is also offered:

  • Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.

  • Brain changes that occur over time with drug use challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. This is why drug addiction is also a relapsing disease.

  • Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop. Relapse indicates the need for more or different treatment.

  • Most drugs affect the brain’s reward circuit by flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. This overstimulation of the reward circuit causes the intensely pleasurable “high” that leads people to take a drug again and again.

  • Over time, the brain adjusts to the excess dopamine, which reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug, trying to achieve the same dopamine high.

  • No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.

  • Drug addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/treatment/what-to-do-if-you-have-problem-drugs-adults

There are also a number of less conventional approaches available, which may, or may not, be appropriate. It is suggested, therefore, that in addition to following the advice offered above, direct Internet research is undertaken. This is unlikely to be time or effort wasted.

Even if you are at the earliest stages of addiction, the sooner you take the first step to recovery the better. Waiting, and putting it off, is a decision in itself, and it is the wrong one. Help is available. Please step outside your current life narrative and seek it.


A number of chemicals accentuate sexual appetite and drive, some to a huge degree. Given the substantial volume of internet posts which discuss never ending porn binges and mammoth sex sessions, this is hardly a secret. Indeed, certain chemicals are renowned for it.

However, putting sniggers and humour aside, this is fraught with issues, some of which are serious. The scenario itself is increasingly common.

One aspect is that linking sexual pleasure to the use of a drug will inevitably increase desire for that drug. The drug is thus likely to be consumed more regularly, leading to the obvious risks, including chemical addiction.

Less obvious is perhaps the effect upon the individual’s sex life. Given the artificial enhancement of the sexual experience, sex (or porn) without the drug is unlikely to ever reach the same heights, or in some cases, anything like the same heights. This can cause a lack of interest, and thus relative impotency under normal conditions, with clear implications for relationships and general life. Lengthy porn binging can also lead to feelings of guilt, lower self-esteem, and frequently, anxiety and depression.

Again, this is an area in which, if in doubt, third party help and counselling should be urgently sought.