Understanding and Treating Drug Addictions

It is true that some people can use prescription and or recreational drugs without experiencing any sort of negative consequences or even addiction. For other people, though, using substances can be their way of trying to escape from other issues in their lives and this can have consequences that are much more serious. The use and abuse of drugs to try and cope with life’s issues only makes the problems that already exist worse and can cause new issues to arise. This can lead to feelings of shame, helplessness, and isolation.

If you are worried about a family member or friend who is using drugs, it is important to understand that help is out there and available. There are inpatient treatment centers as well as outpatient centers, such as HARP intensive outpatient treatment. Learning about the actual nature of the addiction and or abuse, such as how and why it develops, what to look for, and why it has such a powerful grip, can give you a better overall understanding of the issue and how to deal with it.

Professional Treatment

If you know someone who is struggling with an addiction, it is critical that they get professional treatment. Making the decision to stop using could quite possibly save their life. However, some people think that they can recover from their addiction without getting any sort of help. They might opt to detox at home or come up with other methods of self care. While this might be a decision that has its merit – in that they want to get clean – refusing to get professional help can have detrimental consequences.

Learn to Recognize Symptoms

Some of the signs and symptoms of an addiction to drugs include:

  • The feeling that the drug must be used on a regular basis – maybe once a day or more.
  • Having cravings for the drug.
  • Needing more of the specific drug over time in order to get the same type of effect.
  • Having to have a supply of the drug on hand.
  • Spending money you don’t have on the drug.

These are just some of the signs of drug abuse. There are more and they are quite varied.

Understanding Addiction

People might try drugs for myriad reasons. Many might try them because of curiosity or to try to have a good time. Some try them because of peer pressure, or to try to cope with other issues such as depression, anxiety, or stress. Using a drug doesn’t automatically mean that you are abusing it. Furthermore, there isn’t really a specific point when the use of drugs moves from being a casual thing to being a problem. Drug addiction and abuse isn’t really about the frequency of use or the amount used, but is more about why people begin to use the drug in the beginning as well as whether or not their using it has any consequences. If using drugs is causing issues in your life, such as in your relationships, at home, school, or work, then you more than likely have a problem with drug abuse or even an addiction.

Addiction and the Brain

Addiction to drugs and or alcohol is a complex disorder that is characterized by compulsive use of the substance. Each drug will produce different affects, physically speaking, but all substances that are abused share a commonality – use that is repeated can change the way your brain works.

  • Taking recreational drugs cause a rush of one of your hormones – dopamine – in the brain. This can trigger feelings of pleasure. The brain then remembers this feeling and wants to have it repeated.
  • As you become an addict, the substance can take on a like significance to other behaviors for survival, such as drinking and eating.
  • Alterations in the brain can interfere with the ability to clearly think, to use good judgment, to exhibit control over your behavior, and to feel normal without the drug.
  • It doesn’t matter what the drug of choice is, the uncontrollable craving can become more vital to the addict than anything else. This can include happiness, health, a career, friends, and family.
  • The urge to use the drug can become so strong that the mind can find quite a few ways to rationalize and even deny the addiction. The addict can completely underestimate the quantity of the drugs that are being taken as well as how much of an impact it has on their life and the level of control that they do or don’t have over it.