Posted by: Jacqui | 2007/12/03


Hi CS - only seeking your reply please.
Please advise what are the causes of addiction to alcoholics and dagga. What if someone has been addicted to the two for more than twenty years and are ready to quit. How does one go about it and what are the challenges lying ahead for the person and their family?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hi Jacqui,
I'm assuming that you don't want a technical answer, which would require many pages of dense technical, chemical and neuroanatomical details. There are two main components to addiction or dependence. There can be psychological dependence, in which one tends to keep taking a substance and to resist stopping it, for reasons that lie within your psychology, your expectations and assumptions, but if you actually do stop you don't get ill in the first stages of staying off it. With some other substances, including alcohol and the opiods ( like heroin ) there is more at play, and one's body and brain have adjusted to the presence of the chemical, and when you stop you undergo Withdrawal symptoms which can be rather unpleasant, though only for a relatively short period.
With Alcohol, this can include DTs, Delirium Tremens, which is highly unpleasant, and requires one to be in hospital. Both types of drug can cause physical harm --- alcohol can damage the liver and isn't healthy for one's brain, and dagga also may produce some brain-related probl;ems with long-term heavy use. None the less it is possible to come off both and stay off, and the health benefits are considerable.
But if one has the good sense you are showing to recognize that you need to stop and feel ready to quit, what you need is to see a good local rehab program and a shrink with an interest i substance abuse. He/she can assess your situation fully, taking into account the physical and psychological aspects of your specific situation, and advise on treatment. Counselling is key to managing not merely to stop, but to stay stopped. Depending on the amount of alcohol your body has become used to will be what further treatment will be needed to help you come off it safely and effectively. Just suddenly stopping is usually not a great idea
Congratulations on having made the first, essential and huge step, by recognizing the problem and the need to stop --- your life can be transformed, for the better, by succeeding here with the help you deserve

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