Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse
Drug addiction can have serious consequences and carries enormous risks. The use of drugs can cause physical and psychological health problems, especially when a substance has been abused for a sustained period of time. Prolonged substance abuse will alter brain functioning and cognitive processes, as well as causing serious physical complications if treatment is not received in time.
An addict will typically begin to use recreationally and experiment with occasional use, but over time will increase the usage and develop a level of tolerance. The euphoria and pleasure experienced in the outset will diminish over time and the addict will find themselves chasing the same high. If you are concerned that your substance use is having a negative impact on your day-to-day life, you are advised to seek advice at the earliest possible opportunity. If you need any help in choosing the right treatment programme, or would like to take an assessment to discover the seriousness of your drug problem, you can contact Addiction Friend for free and independent advice.
What Is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is a chronic condition that causes users to compulsively seek and use drugs, even when aware of the harmful consequences it is causing to them and other people in their life. Despite the fact that the initial decision to use drugs is a voluntary decision for most people, changes that occur in the brain over time will ultimately challenge an addicts ability to resist impulses to use drugs, and limit their self-control.
Disruption to the brain’s communication system caused by the chemicals that are contained in drugs means that the way the nerve cells process, send, and receive information is distorted. This is caused by chemicals limiting the natural chemical messengers and by overstimulating the part of the brain’s “reward circuit”. The changes to the brain that are caused by drug addiction mean that quitting is difficult, but scientific advances in recent years mean that we now know more about addiction and its effects on the brain than ever before. In the same way that other chronic diseases can be managed and successfully treated, drug addiction can also be overcome through treatment and rehabilitation.
Recognising an Addiction to Drugs
Drug use becomes an addiction when the user develops a psychological or physical dependency to a substance. Despite the undesirable consequences of continued substance abuse, a drug addict will feel an uncontrollable desire to sustain their destructive behaviour.
You might be an addict if you…
- have built up a tolerance to a substance and find yourself having to use more to reach a desired effect
- think drug use is taking over your life and causing problems with your health or social life
- experience withdrawal symptoms like depression, insomnia and anxiety when trying to stop using
- take more drugs or use drugs more often than you intend to do
Someone you know might be an addict if they…
- have mood swings or are secretive
- disappear for long periods of time
- loose interest in activities they once enjoyed
- avoid friends, family and socialising
- have lost interest in their appearance
Finding help for substance abuse and drug addiction
The first steps to getting help is to recognise that you have a problem. Although this can take strength and courage to do, it is perhaps the most difficult part of the recovery process. Once you are ready to make the change, finding help to overcome your addiction to drugs will let you build a drug-free life that is satisfying and healthy. When faced with drug addiction, it can be easy to rationalise the “just one more time won’t hurt” approach but this will just delay recovery. Whichever drug addiction treatment approach you choose to accept, whether self-directed, with therapy, or at rehab, support is essential. Having people in your life that can offer comfort, guidance and encouragement will make the whole recovery process easier for you.