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“Experimenting” with drugs or alcohol is a warning sign of dependence or addiction if it lasts more than a month or two. As a colleague of mine explains, “If you are experimenting, you are going to know after the first couple of times if you like it or not. If it goes past this, then you are heading into addiction.”

Addiction is an ongoing love affair with intoxication. That infatuation can blind people to the damage and destruction caused by their substance use disorder, and they often resist the idea of getting treatment and leaving mind-altering substances behind.

I’m often asked if treatment will work if someone is “forced” to get help. I’d like to point out that in most cases rehab IS forced because, initially, no one wants to go to treatment. They are forced by the courts, by their families, or by mandates at their jobs. Or their hands are forced by the fear of living on the streets, especially when it is cold and wet outside.

Read more: "Forcing" Someone to Get Help... The Professional's Perspective on Treatment

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med cabOn October 22, 2016, the public turned in 731,269 pounds—almost 366 tons—of medication to DEA at almost 5,200 collection sites nationwide. Over the life of the program, 7.1 million pounds (more than 3,500 tons) of prescription drugs have been removed from medicine cabinets, kitchen drawers, and nightstands by citizens around the country.

The medicine cabinet is today’s drug dealer: the majority of the 6.4 million Americans who abused CPDs in 2015 – including the almost 4 million who abused prescription painkillers – say they obtained those drugs from friends and family, including from a home medicine cabinet, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health released last month.

Read more: Disarm the Local Drug Dealer (Hint: He's in your Medicine Cabinet)

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If you love someone who has become dependent on drugs or alcohol, you’ve probably asked them – and yourself – “Why don’t they just stop? Why do they keep going down this deadly, destructive road?” You probably know that genetics play a role in the development of substance use disorder, but did you know that trauma is often a factor, as well?

As pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains in a compelling TedTalk, the repeated stress of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can impact the developing brain and lead to many chronic diseases, including addiction or alcoholism.

Read more: Trauma, Drugs, Alcohol and Treatment - What's the Catch?

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