Caught in the Web

AddictionS Hurt

by Laura Emery, Field Editor


If actress Lindsay Lohan and pop icon Britney Spears have taught us anything in recent months, it’s that addictions happen. Addiction doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, or social status.

Substance abuse is the misuse of alcohol, illegal and legal drugs and medications, and other mood-altering substances. There are more than 17 million people in the United States who suffer from alcoholism alone, and another seven million diagnosed with a drug addiction in the last year. Furthermore, statistics reveal that more people seek help for substance abuse (as a result of depression) after major holidays than at any other time of the year.

Addictive behaviors, like substance abuse, can quickly spiral out of control, tearing families apart, destroying careers, dashing dreams.

Thousands of people — even those with prestigious careers, loving families, and seemingly happy lives — walk around every day bearing the scars and worries resulting from difficult circumstances in their personal lives. The manner in which a person handles these emotional burdens is dependent on the individual, and the intensity of the problem.

For some, alcohol and drugs may seem to be a method of escape, a way to temporarily numb the emotional pain. But once addiction takes hold of its victim, it is usually downhill from there.

Watching someone you care about sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand of their addiction is heart-wrenching; the pain and frustration is experienced vicariously.

The pattern of self-destructive behavior may not be obvious at first. Many substance abusers master the “I have control over it” façade, manipulating their thoughts to rationalize their behavior. Some may not even know they have a problem, but the sickness becomes apparent to those who know them.

Eventually, the signs show. Substance-abuse addictions don’t remain a secret for long. The seams will unravel, slowly — and the cloak of secrecy will fall away, revealing a vulnerable individual badly in need of help.

Because of the nature of substance abuse, privacy and anonymity are two very important factors to those seeking help for themselves, or for someone they care about.

If you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse, please get help. The World Wide Web is a great initial resource for information-gathering and support, but it is not a substitute for professional medical or psychological help.

Understanding Alcoholism

Because of its legal availability and worldwide social acceptance, alcohol is an easy drug for users to abuse. Alcohol abuse, or alcoholism, is one of the most common and most costly drug addictions throughout the world. The majority of those who consume alcohol do so at least once a week, and, for most people, regular drinking on a social level does not create a dependency on the substance. There are, however, more than 17 million people in the U.S. alone with an alcohol addiction.

This Web site contains a wealth of information on alcoholism. Here, you’ll find information on the effects of alcohol, methods of coping, recovery programs, how to find support for families, college drinking, binge drinking, drunk driving, and treatment and rehabilitation.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Web site is packed with valuable information on alcoholism. The NIAAA provides leadership in the national effort to reduce alcohol-related problems by conducting and supporting research in a wide range of scientific areas including genetics, neuroscience, epidemiology, health risks and benefits of alcohol consumption, prevention, and treatment. It also coordinates and collaborates with other research institutes and federal programs on alcohol-related issues, and translates and disseminates research findings to health care providers, researchers, policymakers, and the general public.

Drug Abuse

This Web site for the National Institute on Drug Abuse is a wonderful resource. It features a variety of powerful drug facts, real stories about people suffering from the addiction, and resources for parents and teachers. The National Institute of Drug Abuse focuses on the science behind the drug abuse, and helping those dealing with the addiction understand the scientific reasons for their specific addiction.

Depression: More than Just a Bad Day

In many cases, an individual becomes addicted to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to numb feelings of depression. Even if the individual conquers the addiction, the depression — the underlying cause of the addiction — still remains. For help with dealing with depression, help in identifying symptoms, and seeking treatment — these Web sites are stocked full of valuable information.  


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