What is Drug Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs. Drug addiction refers to the obsessive and repeated use of dangerous amounts of drugs and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when not using drugs.
Signs that show you may have a drug addiction:
• You need more and more of a substance to get the same effects, and you can take more before you feel an effect.
• You feel strange when the drug wears off. You may be shaky, depressed, and sick to your stomach, sweat, or have headaches.
• You can’t stop yourself from using the drug, even if you want to.
• You spend a lot of your time thinking about the drug: how to get more, when you’ll take it, how good you feel, or how bad you feel afterward.
• You have a hard time giving yourself limits. You might say you’ll only use “so much” but then can’t stop and end up using twice that amount. Or you use it more often than you meant to.
• You’ve lost interest in things you once liked to do.
• You’ve begun having trouble doing normal daily things, like cooking or working.
• You borrow or steal money to pay for drugs.
• You’re having trouble getting along with co-workers, teachers, friends, or family members. They complain more about how you act or how you’ve changed.
• You sleep too much or too little, compared to how you used to. Or you eat a lot more or a lot less than before.
• You look different. You may have bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses, or you may have gained or lost weight.
• You have a new set of friends with whom you do drugs and go to different places to use the drugs.
Psychological Effects of Drug Addiction
An effect of drug addiction is creation of a cycle where anytime the user encounters stress or pain, they feel the need to use the drug. This is one of the psychological effects of drug addiction involved in “craving” of the drug. Craving is an effect of drug addiction whereby the addict is obsessed with obtaining and using the drug, to the exclusion of all else.
Other psychological effects of drug addiction include:
• Wild mood swings, depression, anxiety, paranoia, violence
• Decrease in pleasure in everyday life
• Complication of mental illness
• Psychological tolerance to the drug’s effects creating a desire to do ever-increasing amounts of the drug
• Desire to engage in risky behavior
Physical Effects of Drug Addiction
Drug addiction changes the way the brain functions and impacts how the body perceives pleasure. These effects of drug addiction are because the drug repeatedly floods the brain with the chemicals dopamine and serotonin during drug use.
Other physical effects of drug addiction include:
• Contraction of HIV, hepatitis and other illnesses
• Heart rate irregularities, heart attack
• Respiratory problems such as lung cancer, emphysema and breathing problems
• Abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
• Kidney and liver damage
• Seizures, stroke, brain damage
• Changes in appetite, body temperature and sleeping patterns
Drug Addiction Treatment- Drug treatment is intended to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short-term, one-time treatment is usually not sufficient. For many, treatment is a long-term process that involves multiple interventions and regular monitoring.
Drug treatment can include behavioral therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or contingency management), medications, or their combination.
.Treatment medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone (including a new long-acting formulation), are available for individuals addicted to opioids, while nicotine preparations (patches, gum, lozenges, and nasal spray) and the medications varenicline and bupropion are available for individuals addicted to tobacco. Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone are medications available for treating alcohol dependence which commonly co-occurs with other drug addictions, including addiction to prescription medications.
.Behavioral therapies can help motivate people to participate in drug treatment, offer strategies for coping with drug cravings, teach ways to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and help individuals deal with relapse if it occurs. Behavioral therapies can also help people improve communication, relationship, and parenting skills, as well as family dynamics.
. Many treatment programs employ both individual and group therapies. Group therapy can provide social reinforcement and help enforce behavioral contingencies that promote abstinence and a non-drug-using lifestyle. Some of the more established behavioral treatments, such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy, are also being adapted for group settings to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness.