Understanding Drug Addiction
Addiction was seen in the past as a sign of weakness of character or perhaps a moral failing. Although there is still that misconception, we know that drug addiction is a chronic mental disorder. Every year, millions of people in the United States experiment with drugs like marijuana, cocaine or heroin for the first time. Sadly, for a number of these people who have a propensity for addiction, they won’t be able to stop without help.
The Difference Between Drug Use, Abuse and Addiction
While not everyone who tries drugs will become addicted, every case of addiction begins with a casual drug use. In the beginning stages, drug use is an occasional thing. It is often saved for celebrations or special events. The user still has control over how often he or she uses the substance and how much he or she uses. Some of the effects of the drugs may not be comfortable. There may be some confusion, memory loss or rapid heart rate, but the pleasurable sensations of the intoxication will still outweigh the negative effects at this point.
Drug abuse begins when the user begins to develop a tolerance for the substance. He or she will start to need more and more of the substance to get the same high. At this stage, physical and psychological dependence starts. If the user goes without the substance for a period of time, he or she may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include headache, nausea, paranoia, muscle pain and anxiety. The user may retain some control, but the need to use the substance is starting to be compulsive.
When the user no longer has any control over his or her use of the substance, drug abuse has evolved into drug addiction. At this point, attempting to quit will produce withdrawal symptoms as well as overpowering cravings.
Commonly Abused Drugs
There are many different substances that can be abused. Those who experience an addiction to drugs are usually experiencing an addiction to one or more of the following:
- Stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamine)
- Hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin)
- Party drugs (ecstasy)
- Prescription drugs (opiates, benzodiazepines, stimulants)
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.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction
While the signs and symptoms will differ depending on the substance that is being abused, there are certain signs and symptoms that are the same with all substances. The physical symptoms can include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Skin problems
- Slurred speech
- Sleep disturbance
- Unintentional weight loss
- Unnaturally pale skin
- Unusual odors
- Shallow breathing
- Frequent nausea
There are also many psychological and behavioral symptoms. These can include:
- Unusual mood swings
- Loss of interest in activities
- Stealing money or medications
- Uncharacteristic lying
Help with Drug Addiction
There are many ways a person who struggles with drug addiction can receive help.
Certain substances require medically-assisted detox to lessen withdrawal symptoms. Attempting to withdrawal from these substances by yourself can be extremely detrimental. You should seek out a detox center or a treatment facility that offers medical detox.
Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment Programs
The most effective treatment method is the inpatient or outpatient program at a drug rehab. During the treatment program, patients will have medical supervision, counseling, classes and other healing activities.
Groups like Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery offer regular meetings that can provide those that struggle with drug addiction with much needed support. Once you have finished a treatment program, it is suggested that you find regular meetings to attend.
Drug Addiction Treatment
If you are considering seeking treatment for your drug addiction, it is recommended that you look into drug addiction centers like The Recovery Village Ridgefield. Convenient to Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon, our facility offers medical detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs and aftercare programs. Call us today and explore your recovery options. We are here to help.
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