Drug addiction and abuse is a growing problem in the United States. Basically defined, it is a chronic and relapsing disorder that is typically characterized by compulsive substance use and abuse in spite of the adverse effects that it causes.
Today, doctors consider it to be a brain disorder. This is due to the fact that it involves certain structural, functional, and chemical changes that occur in the circuitry of the brain - particularly the circuits that are involved in self-control, stress, and reward. It is important to note that these changes tend to last much longer after you have stopped using substances of abuse.
That said, addiction is similar to other conditions like diabetes and heart disease. This is because these conditions all disrupt the healthy and normal functioning of the particular organs of the body that they affect. They also cause seriously harmful consequences and effects. Additionally, the conditions are preventable and can be treated. However, if you leave them untreated, they might end up lasting for the rest of your life. They may also lead to fatal effects.
People from every walk of life can suffer drug abuse problems. This is irrespective of their background, race, and age, or even the reason for which they started taking drugs. Some will get involved with drugs through experimentation using recreational substances just because they are curious, while copying their friends, to experience their pleasurable effects, or for any other reasons.
Others will take these substances because they would like to enjoy themselves or to deal with issues like depression, anxiety, and stress. However, it is important to note that both illicit and legal drugs can cause drug addiction and abuse. These include substances like cocaine and heroin and even legal substances such as prescription pain relief medications, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and more.
In fact, research shows that prescription pain relief medications come only second to marijuana as the most commonly abused substances in the United States. These substances also cause high rates of drug overdose - some of which lead to death - in comparison to gun deaths and traffic accidents in combination. Further, opioid use disorders arising from prescription painkillers might end up being so powerful that it can lead to heroin use and addiction.
That said, drug use does not automatically cause abuse or misuse irrespective of whether you are taking prescription medications or illicit drugs. Some people take these drugs without suffering their negative effects. Others, however, will find that the drugs they were taking have taken a major toll on their wellness and health.
The important thing to keep in mind is that no specific point exists at which your drug taking will turn from casual fun to a problem. In fact, drug addiction and abuse is less about the amount and type of substances you consume or even the frequency at which you use these drugs and more to do with the negative effects and consequences that arise from this problem.
In case you have noticed that drugs have been causing certain issues in your life - at home, in your interpersonal relationships, at school, or at work - then it is highly likely that you have an addiction or drug abuse problem.
If you are worrying about your substance use, it is important to understand how this problem develops. You also need to know why it might end up leading to potent effects. This will improve your understanding of the solutions that exist for this issue as well as learn how to gain back control over your life.
It is also important to know when you have developed a problem. This is the first step that you have to take before you can achieve recovery. It will, however, require tremendous strength and courage.
You also need to face the problem without thinking that the issue is not major. You should also not make any excuses. Although this might feel overwhelming and frightening, you need to understand that recovery is possible.
We can help. You can overcome drug addiction and have a better life than you ever thought possible!
Although anyone can potentially develop issues with drugs and alcohol, the vulnerability that you have to this problem will vary from one person to the next. While your social environment, family, mental health, and genetic makeup will all have a role to play, there are other additional risk factors that might increase your risk and vulnerability for drug addiction and abuse. They include but are not limited to:
But exactly how does drug addiction and abuse develop? Essentially, it is important to understand the difference between using drugs regularly and taking them in an abusive way that eventually leads to addiction.
In fact, few people who use these substances and end up abusing them recognize the fact that they have already crossed the line. Although the amount of drugs that you take or the frequency at which you take them will not constitute an addiction problem, they are strong indicators of a growing problem.
In case you have been using drugs to fulfil an insatiable need in your life, there is a high probability that you will eventually find that you are increasingly relying on these substances.
For instance, you may have been taking these substances to energize or calm yourself. Alternatively, you may turn to them when you need to improve your feelings of self-confidence.
On the other hand, you could take prescription medications to cope with sleep disorders or panic attacks, improve your school and work concentration, or even to relieve the sensations of pain that you have been suffering from.
In any case, you need to realize that all these instances of drug taking could increase your risk of passing from substance use to abuse and misuse. For this reason, it is recommended that you keep a balance in your life - one that is healthy. You can achieve this goal by ensuring that you feel good about yourself and your life and that you are creating positive and pleasant experiences and memories without turning to intoxicating substances.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you may get involved with intoxicating substances just because you are trying to connect socially. However, many people experiment with drugs in a social situation with colleagues, schoolmates, friends, and even acquaintances for the first time. Your desire to fit as well as be accepted by a group might pressure you into substance abuse.
Over time, however, your drug taking will gradually increase. It will also be accompanied by various problems and issues. You may start using ecstasy while partying, smoke marijuana with your friends during the weekend, or take pain relief medications to deal with a backache or a headache. Eventually, however, you will soon find that you have moved from taking these substances a few days every week to taking them on an almost daily basis. You might also start using them several times in any given day. When this happens, you will soon find that your drug use has become an important facet of your daily life.
While your drug abuse and addiction starts taking hold, you will find that you have been missing and getting late for school or work. Your performance in these areas of your life could also suffer - albeit progressively. Further, you might start neglecting your family and social responsibilities in favor of the substances that you normally take.
Eventually, you will compromise your natural ability to quit drugs. When you get to this point, you will find that what started as something that was a choice that you made voluntarily has turned into a psychological and physical need.
At this point, your drug taking will have consumed your life. It would also have stopped any intellectual or social development that you may have been working on. Similarly, it will reinforce your feelings of increasing isolation.
Although every drug will have different physical consequences and effects, almost every substance of abuse is similar in the sense that they can all change the functioning of your brain as a result of repeated use. This is true both for recreational substances as well as prescription medications.
Essentially, when you take drugs, they will cause you to experience an increase in the production of dopamine inside the brain. It is this production that will cause you to experience intense pleasure. Since your brain is smart, I will remember these sensations and want you to repeat them.
Once addiction has taken hold, drugs will become as significant in your life as any other behavior you engage in to survive - such as drinking and eating. The changes that occur in your brain, on the other hand, will interfere with your natural ability to exercise good judgment, think clearly, feel normal unless you take drugs, and control your behavior.
Irrespective of the drugs that you have been abusing, you will also experience an intense and uncontrollable urge to continue using them. Eventually, this urge will become much more important than other things in your life - including your happiness, health, career, friends, and family.
Your growing urge to take drugs will also be so powerful that your brain will find ways to rationalize and deny your substance use disorder or addiction. At this stage, you may even underestimate the volume of drugs that you have been taking, the impact that they have on your life, as well as the total level of control that you actually have over your substance taking.
Luckily, there are treatment and support options available today. These can help you counteract the various disruptive effects of alcohol and drugs. Further, they will be useful in ensuring that you can gain back the control over your life.
However, you first need to overcome the obstacle of recognizing and admitting that you have a drug related problem. Alternatively, you could just listen to your family, friends, and other loved ones when they inform you that you have this problem. This is because they are in a better position to see the various negative effects and consequences of your drug use and misuse.
There are many varied signs and symptoms of drug addiction and abuse. Although different substances of abuse produce different effects, you can be sure that there are some symptoms of a substance use disorder that tend to be similar. They include:
In case you have or suspect that you have a growing problem with substances of abuse, it is recommended that you get help. There are qualified centers and programs that are focused on offering rehabilitation and treatment services to manage and eventually help you overcome your drug addiction and abuse.