The Dangers of Drug and Alcohol Addictions

talk-with-sonBy Youth Services Clinicians Kent G. Larson, L.C.S.W., and Joyce F. Robison L.C.M.H.C

Drug and Alcohol addictions, what are they? Are they myths? Do people really become addicted or can they just stop at any time? Alcohol and drug addictions are real and are ongoing, which cause people to compulsively use them. A person will try many times to quit and find that they can’t.

Once drugs and/or alcohol have been used for a period of time, changes occur in the brain (such as the increased flow of neurotransmitters, like dopamine in many cases) that makes it difficult for the individual to stop using the substance that he/she is addicted to. Dopamine for example is the “happy” chemical in the brain and when it is flooded in the brain by the use of drugs it causes us to “feel good”. Even though the initial choice to use alcohol or drugs is up to the individual, the user soon finds that his/her impulses to use are nearly unmanageable because we seek the “good feelings.”

There are many reasons a person begins to use alcohol and drugs. These include: curiosity and experimentation, being offered or even pressured to use drugs or alcohol by friends and associates and using them as a coping mechanism in dealing with problems and challenges. There are challenging life events that are difficult to handle or that cause stress, extreme sadness, a lot of worry, and a hard time remaining calm. Because of these events or situations, the person feels alone or unable to manage difficulties without drugs or alcohol. Though they feel that drugs or alcohol gives them control over their feelings or emotions, actually their control is taken away by drugs and alcohol because they can’t concentrate in school, they can’t get out of the court system, their job performance is not as good, and they can’t get along with their family members.

drug-addiction-counseling-1000These challenges are those often dealt with while attending the substance abuse treatment program at the Salt Lake County Division of Youth Services. There are a few levels of treatment which are provided to support those trying to quit drugs and alcohol. This as well as helping youth to move from addiction to being back in control of their lives. This only happens depending on the person’s willingness and motivation to work through the program.

Sometimes the individual, because of their own desire, wants to stop using voluntarily and change their life. More frequently the individual has been charged with a substance abuse offense and is ordered by a judge to complete a substance abuse assessment and treatment. In other situations the user comes in for the substance abuse assessment because of family wanting them to quit.

No matter what the situation, individual therapy, family therapy, group education, and support groups are offered to assist youth to change from drug and alcohol use to a life of sobriety. Salt Lake County Youth Services has a greater than 50% success rate of individuals entering the program reaching 75% or more of their goals. This helps them avoid more action taken by their judge and brings back their relationships with their families.

For more information about the Substance Abuse Treatment Program at Salt Lake County Youth Services please call 385-468-4500 or visit

This entry was posted in Communication Tips, Family Counseling, Parenting Tips, Substance Abuse, Teen Counseling, Treatment. Bookmark the permalink.

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