What Is Drug Addiction?
Drug Addiction is a complex problem defined by the powerful, often uncontrollable, urge to use drugs even in the face of obvious negative consequences.
- Addiction is a chronic disease. It affects the parts of the brain responsible for reward, motivation, and memory. Problems in those parts of the brain lead to the person pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors, even in the face of more and greater negative consequences.
- Addiction is demonstrated by judgment issues in behavioral control, cravings, an inability to stop using substances, and a failure to recognize behavioral problems and/or relationship issues.
- Like other chronic mental disorders, addiction involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engaging in recovery activities, addiction will get progressively worse over time and can result in disability or premature death.
- Many people use drugs and alcohol to escape physical and emotional pain. It’s a short-term fix to a long-term problem.
Drug Addiction is the inability to stop using a drug, resulting in failure to meet work, social and family obligations, and sometimes drug tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
Drug Dependence occurs after the body has adapted to a drug, requiring more and more of that drug to get high or drunk. It also causes drug-specific physical and/or mental problems called withdrawal if someone stops using that drug suddenly, without weaning themselves off it.
Why Do People Do Drugs?
- Stress: some people who suffer social anxiety or other high-stress conditions may abuse drugs in an attempt to combat those feelings of distress. Claims that drug or alcohol use "loosens them up" or lets them "let go" of themselves are common, and the effects of being high or drunk include the lowering of inhibition, resulting in lowered barriers and more talkative interactions.
- To perform better: many people feel that drugs will help with their academic, cognitive, or athletic skills. Some people will claim they can study better, work harder or complete tasks faster when they are using drugs.
- To feel good: Most drugs produce a euphoric high, this is the beginning of the addiction process.
- Curiosity: if everyone else around you is doing it, you may be inclined to try it, too. Social circles play a part in almost every addict's first experiences with drug and/or alcohol use.
Why Do Some People Become Addicts?
There is no one reason that some people become addicts and others don't. Addiction is caused by a variety of factors.
- Family history of addiction – it’s estimated that genetics account for 40-60% percent of a person’s vulnerability to drug abuse.
- Early drug use – the younger a person is when they begin using drugs, the more likely it is that he/she will have a serious problem with addiction.
- Abuse, neglect or other childhood traumas.
- Mental or mood disorders, like Bipolar Disorder or Depression.
- During the teenage years, people who are surrounded by other drug-users are more likely to use drugs and to develop addiction problems.
This Is How Addicts Act:
- Decreased work and school attendance and performance
- Unexplained need for money
- Financial issues
- Getting into trouble
- Sudden changes in friends, hangouts and hobbies
- Secretive and/or suspicious behavior
Addicts' Personality Traits:
- Unexplained mood swings
- Sudden changes in personality
- Irritable or agitated moods for no good reason
- Lack of motivation
- Periods of intense hyperactivity
- Paranoia without reason
This Is What Addicts Look Like:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Pupils that are larger (or smaller) than normal
- Changes in appetite and sleep schedule
- Tremors, slurred speech
- Impaired coordination
- Unusual smells from body, clothes, or breath
What Happens To Users?
Different drugs do different things to your body system. Listed below are just some of the ways you can be affected:
Why Should I Care?
- Injected drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin account for over 33% of new HIV/AIDS cases.
- Injected drug use spreads Hepatitis B and C.
- All drugs cause a euphoric high which interferes with judgment and increases the likelihood of risky sexual encounters, which increases the spread of all Sexually Transmitted Infections, including HIV and Hepatitis.
- Prenatal drug exposure can cause negative effects on the brains and bodies of babies who were born to drug-addicted mothers.
- The effects of second-hand smoke is particularly hazardous to the health of children.
Your Friends Totally Suck:
Everyone has stupid friends; you have some yourself. Drug and substance abuse come from a lot of things, like stress over your body, school, work, home life or relationships. There's no way to tell which of your friends are going to be idiots for sure, but most of the time it's the ones who are socially isolated, have no support system at home, spend a lot of time unsupervised, or have a lot of other problems going on.
These signs are not only shown by your friends who will use drugs. Sometimes, there are deeper issues going on. Talk to your friend and find out if they are using drugs or something else is going on. As much as nobody likes the phrase, peer pressure counts. In short, if your friends use, chances are that at some point, you will too.
There are things you can do to stay away from it without losing all your friends or street cred.
- Find an adult that you can talk to, someone who's positive and supportive. The teens who have a support system and adults they can talk to about the problems they're facing every day are the teens who have greatly lessened odds of serious addiction problems.
- Figure out what you can do to turn down chances that you don't want to take. A lot of the teens who have friends who use and abuse drugs and alcohol wind up using, often because they don't know how to say no. In the moment, that's a lot of pressure, so think about it ahead of time. Figure out what you will say to your friends who offer you the chance to get high or drunk.
Addiction is a treatable problem and can be managed.
The best combination for successful treatment of addiction is to combine medications with behavioral therapy. The treatment plan must be designed specifically for each person’s drug abuse patterns and any existing mental illnesses.
Good outcomes require adequate treatment lengths. If you think you've kicked it quickly, the odds are good that you'll be back to using soon.
A solid support structure is important and can be found in family, friends, therapists, other people in recovery, and people in your faith. The more people you have helping you deal with your problems, the better your chances of recovering successfully and managing your addiction.
It's Not Me, I'm Reading For A Friend. Promise.
Avoid blaming yourself. It’s not your fault and you can't force someone else to change.
Remember to take care of yourself first, you can’t get so caught up in someone else’s problems that you neglect yourself.
Speak up. Confront the addict with your fears and concerns and specific examples of behavior. If they know that you've noticed, they know that you care.
Don’t be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may further push the addict to use.
Don’t bribe, threaten, punish or preach.
Don’t take over their responsibilities and eliminate their sense of self-worth.
Don’t make excuses for their behavior or fix the consequences of their choices.
Don’t hide or throw out their drugs.
Don’t do drugs with them.
Don’t argue with them when they are high.
Try not to feel guilty or responsible for their behavior.
Hotlines for Substance Abuse:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Substance Abuse Resources:
Substance Abuse Treatment Program Locator- state-by-state locator of drug and alcohol treatment facilities.
Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment – a FAQ index from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Narcotics Anonymous: is an international, community-based association of recovering drug addicts with more than 58,000 weekly meetings in 131 countries worldwide.
Al-Anon/Ala-Teen - Support for family members of substance abusers.
Cocaine Anonymous - Support for those who are addicted to cocaine and want to stop using.
Marijuana Anonymous - Support for those who are addicted to marijuana and want to stop using.
Crystal Meth Anonymous - Support for those who are addicted to crystal meth and want to stop using.