Drug Addiction

Drug AddictionUnlike anxiety and depression which affect mental health but are not brought on by the choices of those who suffer from the disorders, drug addiction is a disease which, at the onset, is generally based on an option. While people who suffer from drug addiction did not intend to develop an uncontrollable need to use the substances to which they are addicted, the initial dose of the drugs to which they were exposed was likely their choice. However, once entered into the bloodstream, drugs can have multiple effects which may vary in severity by the type of drug taken, the amount to which exposed or consumed, or any other risk factors involved. While some drugs can have devastating impacts at the onset, even in small amounts, others become increasingly hazardous to the body as the amount increases and as use is prolonged. Since the effects of the same types of drugs can vary per individual, there is no amount that can be considered safe. There are also no indicators that can safeguard whether a person will become addicted and at what amount of substance intake. What is known is that the body is capable of building tolerance to drugs after repeated use and that, at some point, the same substance, whether prescribed or illicit, which was introduced to the body may fail to produce the same results which the drug user has sought. Drugs are pursued for many reasons because they can have varying positive benefits such as serving as mood elevators, pain relievers, or performance enhancers. However, once the body has become accustomed to the physical effects that drugs can produce, it may become dependent on the substances and require further intake or pose complications through means of withdrawal symptoms, which are physical symptoms that are both expected and quantifiable, if the use is ceased. Withdrawal symptoms are often so severe that people will continue to take drugs in order to not experience them; in fact, it is often not recommended that people who have become dependent on certain drugs terminate the use suddenly but, rather, wean off the drugs with the help of medical practitioners as the physical ramifications of quitting abruptly can be negatively intense. When users continue to pursue drugs despite the negative implications often associated with the chemicals, they can develop a brain disease, known as drug addiction, in which the users lose their control to the mind which dictates the need to take drugs and is often lead by overpowering forces. Drug addiction not only is extremely dangerous as it makes the users feel powerless and defenseless, but it also can be life-threatening. Thus, it is imperative, that people be educated about the power of various drugs and the ramifications of taking drugs. For more information regarding drug addiction, please refer to the question and answer section below.

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What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is the overwhelming urge sent by messages from the brain to continue taking substances that can be extremely harmful to the body. With addiction, users often experience a complete loss of self-control in taking drugs. Consequently, drug addiction is considered a mental disease from which users need intervention. Drug addiction is also chronic as symptoms can be long-lasting, and, even after treatment, the urge to take drugs can resurface. People addicted to drugs need continuing assistance in receiving treatment and support.

Why do some people choose to take drugs?

Drug addiction often begins with the initial choice of the user. Users may have a number of reasons for initially engaging in drug use, ranging from medicinal purposes to recreational use. Drugs may be sought for a variety of benefits they may be able to provide. For example, among the potential benefits that some drugs may be able to offer are the reduction of pain and inflammation within the body; the decrease in nausea and increase in appetite; and the increase in mental alertness and energy. Some drugs have been prescribed to increase the physical and mental performance of the body and to decrease the risk of such ailments as heart disease, strokes, seizures, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Other drugs have been sought for their abilities to improve mood and for the perceived enjoyment that they may bring to the users when they enter into the bloodstream and produce chemical messengers in the form of dopamine, which arouse feelings of extreme pleasure. It is important to note that many of the benefits that are associated with the use of drugs are only short-term, and users often find themselves increasing the amount of drugs taken or the frequency in which the substances are taken in order to obtain the same results. Additionally, drugs do not produce the same results for each individual, and, while some may benefit from the short-term use of certain substances, others may discover that drugs have contrary negative effects on them.

Why is it important to seek help for drug addiction?

Drug intake, even in small quantities, can be risky. Despite the claims of some advocates of drug use, there is no safe drug. While some substances may be safer than others, all drugs can be linked with possible negative implications. Even though the risks associated with taking drugs may certainly intensify as frequency of use or the amount taken increases, there have been many cases where people have needed immediate medical attention after one dose. The type of substance to which people expose themselves can also significantly determine the dangers that may await. Among some of the hazards that have been associated with taking drugs are accidents, violence, underachievement, and poor health. Additionally, drugs have also been considered as sources which can sever relations, cause people to quit pursuing their ambitions, and even motivate some users to turn to crime in order to support their addiction. Moreover, drugs can be life-threatening. For these reasons, as well as numerous others, it is critical that users receive intervention for drug dependence and drug addiction.

Who is affected by drug addiction?

Although some may believe that genetics, stress from the environment, the type of upbringing, the relations that people develop, or physical health may determine whether people will become addicted to drugs, it is important to note that drug addiction affects a wide array of users and is not dependent on any single factor. While drug use seems to be most prevalent among youth and people entering their young adult years, it affects a variety of ages and is no respecter of such categorizations as gender, race, wealth, social status, or employment status. Instead, drug addiction affects a number of differing users, and it impacts more than those who are addicted; it affects family, friends, loved ones, and society. For example, it can break down pathways to communication, cause undue stress for those who care and worry about the well-being of those who are addicted, pose challenges for such members of society as teachers who are trying to find ways to impart knowledge to students despite the loss of focus that students who take drugs may experience, and cause complications for employers. Since drug addiction’s ramifications are plentiful and wide-spread, society needs to take a proactive role in raising awareness regarding drugs, educating all people about the implications associated with drug use, and providing resources that can provide much needed help for those who are addicted to drugs, as well as their loved ones.

What causes drug addiction?

When chemicals are introduced into the body, they enter the bloodstream and quickly travel throughout the body. Hormones, which are released into the bloodstream, and neurotransmitters, which travel through the neural networks, can affect the brain and other elements of the body and are often impacted by the type of chemical used, the amount of substance taken, and the form in which the drug is administered to the body. While the onset of a drug within the body may produce favorable sought-after results, the body can become tolerant to some drugs and require more of the substance in order to achieve the same results. For instance, people taking drugs to elevate their moods or performances may find that highs are often followed by lows and they may continue taking the substances in order to experience increased function; yet, eventually the body becomes tolerant to the drugs and may cease producing the same positive results unless a greater quantity of the substance is taken. As frequency of drug use and the amount of substance increases, so does the likelihood that the body will develop dependence and addiction. Drugs can alter the brain, and the brain can create intense urges for the user to continue taking drugs despite the dangers posed to the body. Withdrawal symptoms complicate the matter because they can cause the drug users to feel violently ill if they cease using the substances. There is no timeframe for addiction to occur, and, while addiction may be more likely in people who engage in taking drugs for prolonged periods, it can occur even upon the first time that some chemicals are presented to the body.

What types of drug addiction exist?

There are numerous drugs found throughout the world, but they generally fall within the following categories: anti-depressants, barbiturates, cannabis, depressants, hallucinogens, inhalants, narcotics, opioids, and stimulants. Not all drugs are considered to be addicting, but all drugs have some type of risk associated with their use. Among the drugs that are considered to be most addictive are alcohol and nicotine. It is important for people to be educated about the various types of drugs and the risks associated with their use. It is also critical to keep in mind that drugs of any kind should never be taken if the source from where they come is not known or trusted as many users who thought they were taking one type of substance may actually have exposed their bodies to unknown elements which could be deadly.

What are some symptoms associated with drug addiction?

There is a plethora of ramifications associated with drug addiction in the areas of physical, mental, emotional, and soulful health. The negative effects may depend on the type of drug used, the method of use, the amount taken, the length of use, and the combination of substances that are presented to the body. Although people may find treatment for drug addiction, the effects can last a long time or even be permanent. Among the physical implications of drug use are motor impairment; illnesses and disease, such as liver disease, certain types of cancer, and diseases of the blood; complications with breathing, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and pneumonia; difficulties with heart and blood vessels, such as constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, irregular heart rhythm, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and the increased risk of heart disease; and improper functioning of the nerves, as associated with seizures and strokes. Additionally, people who struggle with drug addiction may have difficulties sleeping and feel restless, yet fatigued; may experience complications with bodily functions, such as swallowing or smelling; and may be malnourished but have episodes of nausea. Women who are pregnant and taking drugs may experience further implications, both during and after pregnancy as their likeliness to not carry their babies to full-term may increase. In addition to physical well-being, mental well-being is drastically affected by addiction as users experience loss of self- control, confusion, and impaired judgment. Those who are addicted to drugs often have difficulties with attentiveness, concentration, memorization, and problem-solving because the connection of the areas of the brain responsible for these skills are negatively impacted. Other ramifications to the mental well-being of people with drug addictions may include hallucinations and paranoia as senses may be altered. Another area in which people with drug addictions may suffer is their emotional well-being as trust issues, extreme mood swings, impaired relationships, and irritability can often accompany the drug use. Furthermore, drug addiction poses hazards to soulful well-being as people who are taking substances may experience difficulties establishing and reaching goals, finding motivation, and forming introspective thoughts.

Is drug addiction treatable, and, if so, how effective is treatment?

Drug addiction is treatable in that people who suffer from addiction can learn how to successfully manage it with proper treatment, which includes withdrawing from use, detoxifying the body from the harmful substances, modifying behavior, assessing progress, and engaging in follow-up practices which are directed at preventing relapse. During the detoxification process, when it is probable that the body will experience severe withdrawal symptoms, treatment may also include finding the right type of medication that will help in being able to cope with the pain and discomfort of the withdrawal. These treatments require the assistance of medical professionals who have experience in dealing with drug addictions, and, many times, those who have been significantly involved with drugs may enroll into drug rehab centers where they can receive around-the-clock attention, if needed. Treatments are also often customized according to the needs of those who suffer from drug addiction, and they take into consideration the practices which the substance users engaged in when taking the drugs. Although treatment can be highly effective and there is hope for recovery, drug addiction is chronic and those who experienced addiction can relapse even after coming off of drugs. Therefore, treatment needs to be followed-up on an ongoing routine basis, which may span from the time treatment is received to years later or even throughout the recovering addict’s lifespan.

What is relapse?

Relapse is when recovering addicts return to using drugs even after receiving effective treatment. Since the brain changes during addiction and the alterations can be relentless, there is increased risk that those who have previously been addicted to drugs can relapse. Drug addiction is habit forming and, therefore, is considered to be a chronic disease. People must realize that recovery is an ongoing process and must be followed up to prevent relapse. If relapse occurs, immediate intervention is needed which should involve analyzing the factors that might have contributed to the relapse, assessing the treatments, and making any necessary changes. One of the most important keys to successful treatment is for people suffering from relapse to not place undue blame on themselves, but rather to forgive themselves and to possess the willingness to move forwards, realizing that learning from mistakes are a part of life.

Why are some people who suffer from drug addiction reluctant to obtain help?

People who suffer from drug addiction may experience a wide array of emotions which may include feeling scared, ashamed or embarrassed, or hopeless and defeated. They may realize that they have lost self-control but may not want to admit it. On the other hand, they may desire to cease the drug addiction, but severe withdrawal symptoms may make it seem almost impossible. Whatever the case, it is imperative that help be sought because the negative implications of remaining addicted can often be devastating, and, the longer people take to seek help, the more difficult it may become to overcome their struggles.

What types of intervention may be helpful for drug addiction?

Education, awareness, and the provision of resources are critical to the war on drugs. People need to learn about the risks associated with taking drugs at an early age and need to be reminded throughout life of some of the obstacles that may confront them if they engage in using drugs. Moreover, people suffering with physical ailments or mental disorders need to be made aware of alternatives to treatment which do not depend on medication. However, for those people who take drugs, their health needs to be monitored frequently. Should people become addicted to drugs, they need immediate intervention which includes therapy. Support groups play a pertinent role in helping people to overcome and stay on track.

What other measures should people in recovery from drug addiction implement?

In addition to surrounding themselves with a support network who can assist them in remaining positive and staying focused on their ambitions, those recovering from drug addiction should engage in healthy lifestyle practices, such as maintaining proper nutrition and routinely exercising, as drug addiction can take a detrimental toll on the body. They should also set short-term and long-term goals that will motivate them to press forwards and that they can regularly assess to take pride in their progress made. Moreover, they may want to keep a journal which they write in each day to express how they are feeling, as well as discuss the obstacles that they have encountered and the factors that have kept them motivated and inspired to persevere; these journals can be uplifting sources that they can read during times when they may feel down.

What should people do if they know others who are suffering from drug addiction?

People who know others that are suffering from addiction should encourage them to obtain help or should find the help needed if those who are addicted are unable to do so on their own, and they should make themselves available during every step of recovery. They should be trustworthy and nonjudgmental, and they should be willing to listen when needed. They should also stay informed about drug abuse and the drugs that are causing the addiction as what they learn may be critical in helping others to take the necessary steps in overcoming or in saving lives.

How can music serve a significant role in helping people that are suffering from drug dependence?

Music has several benefits that can assist people who are struggling with drug addiction. It can provide tranquility and relaxation, help people to focus, motivate them to discover their inner strength, and encourage them to reclaim their control. Music can bring hope to the hopeless and power to the powerless. It can also can provide many of the positive effects that people seek when taking drugs without the negative repercussions. For example, listening to music has been linked to an increase in the level of dopamine, a neurotransmitter within the body which is considered to produce feelings of pleasure. Moreover, listening to music has also been effective in helping relieve pain, increasing performance levels, and elevating moods. Music is therapeutic and supportive. Many artists have depended on music to overcome their struggles, and they have inspired people to do the same.

If you are struggling with substance abuse, please consider calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Please note that SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is not affiliated with Inspire 4 A Lifetime, LLC and has neither sponsored nor endorsed Inspire 4 A Lifetime, LLC.