What you should be aware of when using drugs
Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder*, is the compulsive use of a substance despite detrimental or dangerous consequences. It can affect anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status or class. The important characteristic is an underlying change in brain chemistry when drugs are used excessively. You learn to associate the pleasure of drug use with places, people and things. With this change in brain chemistry and paired associative learning, triggers are embedded into your brain. Each time you are triggered, you will experience cravings.
And the solution to quenching this craving? Relapsing back into drug use!
Repeated relapses and drug cravings, when exposed to a trigger, represent some of the physical symptoms of this brain chemistry change.
Stopping the drug after frequent use leads to acute withdrawal symptoms. To avoid the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, you seek relief through, what else, drug use again!
The addictive cycle reinforces and strengthens itself. When you are caught in its destructive cycle, drug addiction affects your studies, career, relationships and finances. Effectively, it pervades every aspect of your life.
* as defined in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5)
Signs and Symptoms of drug addiction/dependence
DSM-5 outlined 11 criteria as symptoms of drug addiction.
Severity of substance use disorder
Breaking a drug addiction cycle is difficult, but not impossible. Help is available for the individual and family members here at WE CARE, in the form of addiction counselling, educational and therapy programmes and 12-Step self-help recovery support groups.
Drug addiction is viewed as chronic and relapsing
When you are actively using, addiction hijacks your brain, and makes drug-using its chief priority. During this cycle of active drug use, the brain undergoes chemistry changes where it associates pleasure with drug use and its environment. This memory association embeds itself as a trigger so that you are reminded of the pleasures of drug use.
You will experience intense craving when the euphoria of the drug wears off. And when you undergo withdrawal, the pain of physical withdrawal symptoms is so great that, you have to use in order to avoid the pain. To address the physiological effects of drugs, you need to seek medical help for detoxification.
After medical detoxification, the drugs will be expelled out of the body. But because of the brain chemistry changes, a drug user can be triggered by drug-related cues and stimuli, to use the drug again so as to relive the pleasures it brings. When you are triggered, you tend to display an optimistic bias and to ignore the risks and costs associated with drug use. The risk of relapse is increased if you are also undergoing a personal crisis. Counselling is helpful to address these psychological dependencies.
Help and Treatment
Seek professional help early to reduce the harmful consequences and social and economic costs arising from excessive drug use.
Screening - The aim of the initial session is to identify the presence of the drug use problems and/or effect of negative consequences of excessive drug use. Our professional WE CARE counsellor will screen for any other existing mental health conditions to gain a deeper understanding of our client.
Assessment - This is a comprehensive understanding of the severity and depth of the drug use problem in the client's life situation. We also evaluate the individual's strengths, weaknesses, problems and needs so we can determine an effective solution. Potential risks, and how they are to be managed, will be integrated into the treatment planning. If medical detoxification is required, the client will be referred to the appropriate agency, as WE CARE does not offer medical detox services. Otherwise, a suitable treatment plan can proceed, after a discussion with the client, and with his approval.
Treatment Planning + Counselling - Tailored to the client's needs, the treatment plan will also establish immediate and long-term goals. A discussion of WE CARE's holistic services is included in the treatment planning. The length of the recovery approach will depend, among other factors, on the intensity of the client's drug use problem.
Your sessions with WE CARE counsellors are strictly private and confidential.
The SOAR (Substance or Alcohol Recovery) Programme is a structured therapy programme designed for people with substance, prescription meds and/or alcohol abuse problems. Counselling is provided by trained addiction specialists.
The basic programme comprises:
Depending on their needs, some clients may require further sessions after the initial phase of the programme.
To download the SOAR flyer, click here.
To make an appointment, call 3165 8017 or email: email@example.com
WE CARE has started a new support group called “Family and Friends Support Group”. Facilitated by WE CARE counsellors, this group is meant for spouses, partners, family members or friends affected by an addicted loved one.
"Family & Friends" teaches effective strategies for self-care and how to cope with the recovering addict. The support group focuses on changing the way you interact with the recovering loved one. Using the CRAFT Model and SMART Recovery tools, we will touch on important topics that family members and friends experience, including:
The goals for "Family & Friends" are
"Family & Friends" takes place twice a month. For details, check out the schedule here.
If you are an affected family member or friend and you wish to attend "Family & Friends", contact Sida at 3165 8017 or NoorSida@wecare.org.sg to register.
SMART stands for Self-Management & Recovery Training. Participants learn tools for addiction recovery based on the latest scientific research and participate in a world-wide community which includes free, self-empowering, science-based mutual help groups. All facilitators are registered SMART Recovery Facilitators.
SMART is an ongoing closed group and caters to individuals with a history of addiction. Interested participants are required to undergo a clinical intake before attending SMART Recovery.
If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Details of the schedule for SMART can be found here
Mindfulness For Recovery
Mindfulness for Recovery is an open group to learn and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps participants to break away from their own destructive habitual patterns. All facilitators have personal experience practising mindfulness. This group is catered for people with a history of addictions, reactive behaviours and/or mood disorders.
Details of the schedule for Mindfulness can be found here
To register: call 3165 8017 or email email@example.com