What is Drug Addiction? How Can You Tell if Someone Might Be Addicted?
Drug addiction is something that’s regularly misunderstood by people all over the world. When you hear someone has a drug addiction, you tend to blame them right away. Many assume it’s the addict’s fault because they chose to take drugs, they lack the willpower to kick the habit, so maybe they get what they deserve.
The simple fact is that drug addiction is far more complex than willpower, and it can have devastating consequences whether the intentions are positive or negative to begin with. Being addicted to drugs can ruin personal relationships, damage careers, ruin financial standings, and leave you in a terrible place in your life.
There’s a lot that you probably don’t know about drug addiction and the changes it can make to your body and mind. Here, in this blog post we’ll explain everything you need to know about drug addiction.
What is Drug Addiction?
In basic terms, drug addiction is when a person feels the compulsive need to take a particular drug all the time. To make matters worse, the more you take it, the more you feel the need to carry on taking it.
While choosing to take a drug for the first time can be a choice, addiction itself is often not a direct choice. It all boils down to a change in your brain. When you take drugs, they interfere with your brain chemistry and alter the way it works. Drugs can have a huge impact on the way you think. We won’t get too detailed and scientific for now, but it can essentially cause chemical changes in your body that make your brain send out different signals to different parts of your body.
In more simple terms, your brain is tricked into thinking that your body needs this drug to survive. This is why you get urges to take it over and over again. You don’t logically know any better because your brain is telling you that you need this drug or else you’re going to suffer and feel really bad. Then, when you take the drug, your body feels so much better (temporarily). Your brain feels it is rewarded so for a short time, you might feel like you’re on top of the world.
Therefore, you start a cycle. Your brain seeks out this “reward”, so you get those urges and everything carries on in one continuous loop. It’s tough to break the cycle because you’re mostly fighting against the most powerful tool you own; your brain.
Addiction is not an excuse to continue destructive behaviors. Nor is it an end-all in any person’s life situation. Although it does change your brain activity and affect every part of your life, it’s not the end of you. Even if addiction has a hold on your– or someone you care about– the cycle can definitely be broken.
To make things worse, there are so many different types of drugs people can become addicted to. Different drugs come with different complications that change the overall self.
The most commonly abused drugs include recreational substances, such as:
- Opioid pills (painkillers)
There are countless substances out there that have incredibly addictive qualities. They interact with your brain on a very high level. Generally speaking, the better a drug makes you feel, the more addictive it is.
However, to make matters worse, there are prescription drugs that are addictive as well. A lot of pain medications can have addictive qualities as you take them to feel relief. Your brain loves the feeling of this relief, which gives you the urge to keep taking more. As such, some people develop drug addiction because of a prescription after a severe injury or illness because a tolerance develops.
What Are the Signs of Drug Addiction?
One of the key signs that you have a drug addiction is if you feel dependent on drugs. There are different ways you can have a drug dependence, with one being that you take it to improve the way you feel. Many people with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are likely to suffer drug addiction because they turn to drugs as a way to alleviate their symptoms.
However, you can also take drugs because you have a physical dependence on them. This means that your body has built up a tolerance to the effects of drugs, so it starts to go into a state of shock when drugs aren’t present in the system. Therefore, you need to take them in order to stop these bad feelings and make you feel physically better.
In essence, what that last paragraph described were withdrawal symptoms. If you experience any of the following after not taking drugs for a few hours then you most likely have an addiction:
- Cold shakes
- Excessive sweating
- Hot flashes
- Vomiting or nausea
- Mood swings
- Stomach cramps
- Flu-like symptoms
There are loads of withdrawal symptoms associated with drug addiction, and they vary depending on the specific drugs. In general, noticing these symptoms is an easy way to see if you have a drug addiction or not.
It’s not just withdrawal symptoms that signify drug addiction. There are other behavioral changes to watch out for as well:
- You no longer have any hobbies
- You spend less time talking to friends or family
- You’re taking more time off work
- You’re always late for things
- People are commenting on your appearance
- You’re gaining or losing a lot of body weight
- Your appetite is extremely low or high
- You’re frequently out of control
- You really wish you could stop using, but simply can’t no matter how hard you try.
If you feel like these things are happening in your life, then it could indicate drug addiction. Another telltale sign is if people you know are confronting you and encouraging you to get help. When most of the people around you think you have a problem, then the chances are you do have one.
What Are the Dangers of Addiction?
You don’t need us to tell you that drug addiction is dangerous. It impacts your physical health, mental wellbeing, relationships, and the rest of your life as well. Not only that, but it can lead to accidental overdoses.
An overdose is when you take too much of a substance, and it is too much for your body to handle. This can lead to cardiac arrest, you can stop breathing, and you can die. Overdose is a serious issue, and it is the number one cause of death for Americans that are under the age of 50.
However, drug overdose isn’t the only danger of drug addiction. It can cause the following health problems:
- Depression & anxiety
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory issues
- Stomach pains
- Organ damage (particularly to kidneys and liver)
- Brain damage
- Early onset Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease
The list goes on. This doesn’t even take into account how drug addiction affects the rest of your life as well. It can lead to the following issues:
- A breakdown in relationships with friends, family and loved ones
- Getting fired from your job for turning up late or turning up high
- Losing all your money because you spend it all on drugs
- Arrests for disorderly behavior while on drugs
- Potential for dangerous situations like robbery, rape, violence, or serious injury
Overall, you could end up with no friends, no money, no job, and a whole host of underlying medical conditions when you’re addicted to drugs long-term.
Can You Treat Drug Addiction?
The good news is that drug addiction can be treated. It can’t be “cured”, per se, purely because there’s always the chance that it can come back. However, you can undergo rehabilitation treatment for drug addiction to ensure you’re on the path to recovery.
Rehab is the best course of action as you can move into a rehabilitation facility and get all the treatment you need. Typically, the road to recovery begins with detox. Drug detox means you cut the substance out of your system and re-acclimate your body into functioning without it. This will generate some nasty withdrawal symptoms, but you can get medication assisted treatment (MAT) to help cope with discomfort.
After detox, you can begin with counseling, therapy, and a range of other treatments to tackle drug addiction. The aim is to get you in the frame of mind where your brain no longer craves drugs so you can function without them.
Summary: Addiction is A Serious Disease, But It CAN Be Treated
Hopefully, this has shown that drug addiction isn’t merely a case of someone liking drugs and taking them all the time. It’s a serious disease that needs to be addressed, or else you’ll end up on a slippery slope towards life risks nobody should have to live through. There are drug addiction treatments out there, and it’s always best to seek out professional help if you want the best results.
If you or a loved one needs help, call us at 949-625-4019.