Understanding Drug Addiction
Millions of people in America are experimenting with drugs like marijuana and cocaine. While some people are able to remain casual drug users, many people go on to abuse drugs. In order to understand drug abuse, we must first understand the difference between drug use, drug abuse and drug addiction.
What is Drug Abuse?
Substance abuse begins when someone takes a substance to change the way they feel currently. Everyone knows what kind of damage illegal substances like heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine can do, but prescription drugs can also be abused when people use them for non-medical reasons or outside of the amount they are prescribed.
Although drug addiction and drug abuse are closely linked, there is a difference between the two conditions. For instance, if someone doesn’t only abuses drugs three or four times a year, they may show signs of drug abuse but not addiction. However, if someone regularly abuses a substance and makes their entire life about using and obtaining the substance, that person shows signs of addiction.
Even when a prescription drug is prescribed for a medical reason, sometimes patients can become chemically dependent on the drug – especially opiates or benzodiazepines. While there is a difference between a drug dependence and a drug addiction, these two conditions often go together as well.
Commonly Abused Drugs
There are many categories of drugs. Each substance affects the user differently. However, they all have one thing in common in that they are addictive. Here is more information about some of the most popular substances that people abuse.
- Breathing problems
- Heart irregularities
- Severe dehydration
- Low blood pressure
- Lowered sperm count in men
- Emotional addiction
- Lowered immunity
- Impaired memory
- Increased risk of death when used together
- Poor concentration
- Panic attacks
- Impulsive behavior
- Arrested breathing
- Brain damage
- Memory loss
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts
- Accidents due to risky behavior
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction
While the symptoms and signs will be different depending on the particular drug that is being abused, there are certain symptoms that are similar with multiple substances.
Physical symptoms of drug addiction include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Skin problems
- Slurred speech
- Sleep disturbance
- Unintentional weight loss
- Unnaturally pale skin
- Unusual odors
- Shallow breathing
- Frequent nausea
Psychological and behavioral symptoms include:
- Unusual mood swings
- Loss of interest in activities
- Stealing money or medications
- Uncharacteristic lying
Causes of Drug Addiction
Many different factors contribute to drug addiction. For example, family background, genetic makeup, neurological factors, social influences and environmental issues may all play a role. Growing up in an environment where drug use is generally accepted or having a family member who has an addiction to drugs can increase a person’s propensity for addiction. Co-occurring mental illnesses can also increase a person’s chance of developing a drug addiction.
No matter the substance, the more you use, the more your body and brain will come to depend on this substance to produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, pleasure or excitement. When repeated use of a substance changes a person’s brain so that they can no longer function normally without using the substance, drug addiction is present.
Drug Abuse Treatment
If you currently suffer from substance use disorder, you are certainly not alone. Here at The Recovery Village at Ridgefield, we treat many patients for drug and alcohol addiction – helping them to find healing and find their way back to recovery. Our beautiful campus – convenient to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington – provides a serene backdrop for patients to really focus on their health and wellness.
No matter what your story is, it’s never too late for you to ask for help. Call us today, and speak to one of our compassionate and understanding addiction specialists about the best treatment option for you.
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