Understanding Drug Addiction and Treatment
Addiction to drugs is a chronic disease that can quickly take over your life and put it in a downward spiral. Some people think that drug use is caused by a weak will and that people who get addicted are doing it by choice. However, addiction can start in ways you wouldn’t expect. Eventually, the substances being used can rewire your brain and make it incredibly difficult to stop on your own.
An Overview On Drug Addiction
Drug addiction doesn’t usually start out of nowhere. Many of those with risk for addiction have underlying conditions such as undiagnosed mental health problems or persisting trauma from another event. With the prevalence of opioid painkillers, it’s also very possible for addiction to start after getting a prescription to these medications due to an accident or injury. Still, others might try a gateway drug like marijuana and then find themselves seeking harder drugs like heroin or cocaine. The fact is, drug addiction isn’t the same for everyone.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a type of brain dysfunction that hijacks the reward systems. It’s often considered to be both physical and psychological as the body is generally physically dependent on the addictive substance, which in turn influences the psychological addiction. Physical dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped or use is reduced.
Some drugs cause withdrawal symptoms within minutes of the last dose, while others take hours or days. These withdrawal symptoms are often extremely uncomfortable, which prompts the user to take more of the drug to alleviate them. Addiction is characterized by the following five behaviors:
- Being unable to stop using the substance even though you may want to
- Having an increased desire to use the substance over all else
- Lacking self-control in many areas
- Dismissing any health or behavior problems that your substance abuse is causing
- Losing interest in every other aspect of your life
What Drugs Are Addictive?
There are several different types of addictive drugs. They generally fall into the categories of street drugs and prescription drugs. Street drugs include meth, heroin, and cocaine. Prescription drugs include opiate painkillers, benzodiazepines (benzos), barbiturates, and methadone.
Opiate painkillers and benzos are among the most addictive types of prescription drugs. Both are often prescribed for pain, but benzos are also prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety. Both drug types can be very addictive, especially when taken over a longer period of time.
People who become addicted to opiate painkillers often turn to heroin, which is also an opiate, when they can no longer get prescriptions. Withdrawal from opiates is very unpleasant, but this type of withdrawal is not generally life-threatening. However, the risk of overdose with opiates is very high.
What Are Common Signs Of Drug Addiction?
The signs of drug addiction are typically found in both the health and behavior of the individual. Drug-seeking behavior becomes the most important thing in an addicted person’s life, and they may go to great lengths to hide this behavior. Increased secrecy and lack of interest in other things are both potential signs of drug addiction. You may also notice them having financial difficulty and frequently missing school or work.
In terms of physical symptoms, these depend on the drug being used. If the person is injecting drugs, you might start seeing them wear long clothing even in the summer to hide the needle marks. If the person is snorting drugs, you might notice them sniffling a lot or having other nasal problems. More general symptoms might include increased lethargy or increased energy, memory loss, agitation and restlessness, and increased depression or anger.
What Are The Health Risks From Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse involves a multitude of health risks. Some of the risks come from the drug itself while others come from the abuse method. For example, injected heroin carries the risk of HIV and hepatitis due to dirty or shared needles. Many addictive drugs cause organ problems, including liver, kidney, and heart disease. Smoked drugs like crack and marijuana carry the risk of lung cancer due to inhaled carcinogens. Most addictive drugs also have the potential for overdose, which can be fatal in many cases. Meth, heroin, benzos, and prescription opiates have the highest risk for a fatal overdose.
What Are The Causes Of Addiction?
Drug use is usually voluntary at least the first time a person uses it, and the reasons for trying drugs can vary. Some people try them in a peer pressure situation, or due to stress or some other strong emotion like anxiety or depression. In the case of prescription drugs, the person usually takes them in good faith, not expecting to become addicted.
Some people can try drugs like heroin or cocaine and not get addicted, while others become addicted after the first use. The simplest explanation is that, in some people, the drugs hijack the brain’s reward and motivation circuitry. The high from a particular drug might be so euphoric to some people that they can’t stop themselves from trying it again. They then have to take more and more to get the same effect as tolerance builds up.
At some point, the person takes the drug simply to stop uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms from occurring. This is a sign that the person is both dependent and psychologically addicted.
Where To Seek Help For A Drug Problem
A quality drug addiction treatment center like Defining Wellness in Central Mississippi is essential to overcoming a struggle with addiction. A period of detox is often the first step to treating drug addiction, but after that, it’s crucial to discover the underlying problem with proven therapies. Defining Wellness offers a range of well-known treatments, including the following:
At Defining Wellness, we can help you or a loved one seeking drug addiction treatment. We offer a number of evidence-based technologies including an AI-powered Wellness Lab that utilizes modalities like neurofeedback and photobiomodulation therapy among others.