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What Is Drug Addiction?

Oct 8, 2021

Drug addiction is a complex neurobiological disease that requires integrated treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain‚ its structure and how it works.

Drug addiction can start with experimentation in social settings, becoming more frequent with time. Other drug addictions (especially those involving opioids) start when taking prescribed medications.

In fact, prescription painkillers are the most abused drug in the US after marijuana. More individuals die from opioid painkiller overdoses every day than from traffic accidents and gun deaths combined.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

Individuals struggling with drug addiction often feel they cannot function normally without their drug of choice. This can lead to a wide range of issues that impact professional goals, personal relationships, and overall health. Over time, these serious side effects can be progressive and, if left untreated, fatal.

Here is an overview of drug addiction, including:

There is no one cause of addiction, though living with a mental health disorder may increase the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder — and vice versa. Everyone is different. In some cases, a mental health disorder predates the development of drug abuse. In other cases, mental health symptoms are not apparent until after addiction has taken hold — sometimes, these conditions are exacerbated by drug use.

What is the Best Definition of Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease that requires integrated treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. Brain changes can be long-lasting, and the disease can be fatal without treatment.

Drug use, when addiction takes hold, is compulsive and difficult to control, despite its harmful consequences.

Relapse is common but isn’t necessarily a sign that drug addiction treatment isn’t working. Such treatment should be ongoing and adjusted based on how you respond to it.

What are the Warning Signs of Drug Addiction?

Sometimes the warning signs of alcohol misuse or abuse are very noticeable. Other times, they can take longer to surface. When drug addiction is discovered in its early stages, the chance for a successful recovery increase significantly.

Common signs of drug addiction include:

  • Loss of control
  • Continued problems despite negative consequences
  • Spending less time on activities that used to be necessary, such as hanging out with family and friends, exercising, or pursuing hobbies or other interests
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Taking serious risks to obtain one’s drug of choice
  • Acting out in personal relationships, particularly if someone is attempting to address their substance problems
  • Going out of one’s way to hide the amount of drugs taken
  • Serious changes or deterioration in hygiene or physical appearance
  • Needing to use more and more of the drug to produce the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, trembling, sweating, nausea, or fatigue

If you feel that drug addiction is taking a toll on your life, finding a quality drug addiction treatment center is essential for helping you overcome addiction.

Can Addiction Result in Overdose?

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Any drug overdose can be either accidental or intentional.

Accidental overdoses happen when people take higher doses of prescription medication than originally intended to achieve certain results or use too much of an illegal drug to get a better high.

Intentional overdoses are usually a result of someone trying to commit suicide. Regardless of the intent, any loss of life due to an overdose is tragic, and any overdose can have severe and lasting repercussions.

How Does Drug Addiction Affect the Body?

Drug addiction affects every organ in the body. Aside from overdose, there are many adverse medical effects of drug addiction.

These include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • 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
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders

Drugs affect the reward center in the brain, causing a euphoric feeling while flooding the brain with dopamine. This surge of dopamine can reinforce pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors such as taking drugs and repeating the behavior.

Prolonged drug use can cause damage to other chemical systems in your brain, adversely affecting your judgment, reasoning, memory, and ability to learn.

What are Commonly Used Illegal Drugs?

Drugs are classified in several ways. Many are potentially addictive and harmful.

Examples of commonly used illegal drugs include:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine or crack cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Bath Salts
  • Methadone
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana
  • LSD
  • PCP

What are Commonly Used Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs that can be obtained legally are also used by all age groups for non-medical reasons and are often combined with alcohol. The risks of interaction, drug addiction, or accidental overdose can be deadly.

Commonly used and misused prescription drugs include:

  • Opioid painkillers
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Stimulants, such as those used to treat ADHD
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-obsessive agents
  • Mood stabilizers

Is Alcohol a Drug?

One of the most common misconceptions is that alcohol is not a drug. Though legal, alcohol is a mind-altering substance. When taken in combination with other drugs, the effects can be deadly. Hanley has helped countless men and women overcome alcoholism and rebuild their lives through our proven treatment methods at our alcohol treatment centers.

What is the Best Treatment for Drug Addiction?

Integrated treatment Is key to treating drug addiction. Integrated treatment is comprehensive programming that offers all the therapeutic resources necessary to help the individual heal physically, mentally, and spiritually.

According to research, a combination of mental health and addiction treatment programs offer the best chance of success for those with a drug addiction.

Behavioral therapy often includes some form of counseling that may take the form of individual, family, or group therapy.

This therapy is designed to assist you with the following:

  • Learning how drugs changed your behavior
  • Understanding why you get addicted
  • Finding how to deal with your problems in a way that won’t include drug use
  • Learning to avoid certain places, people, and circumstances in which you may be tempted to use drugs

There is No Cure for Addiction, But People Can and Do Recover

If your drug use or a loved one’s drug use is seemingly out of control, you need to get help right away. The sooner you act and seek help, the greater your chances of finding long-term recovery.

While there is no cure for any mental health disorder, including drug addiction, many go on to lead incredible lives filled with hope and courage. Numerous research-based therapies and treatment interventions have been proven effective in treating those living with drug addiction.

The key is receiving personalized treatment that is intensive and integrated. When long-term support and therapeutic and spiritual interventions are applied, people struggling to overcome addiction do recover.

Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for mental illnesses and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting wellness. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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