What is Drug addiction?
Addiction is a disease that affects your brain and behavior, and it causes you to have difficulty controlling the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine are all considered drugs. When someone has an addiction, they become addicted to these substances. You may continue using the drug even if it causes harm.
The effect of Drug addiction
Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by the compulsive seeking, continued use, and inability to control the use of drugs despite harmful consequences. It is considered a mental health disorder and often involves a physical and psychological dependence on a substance.
Key features of drug addiction include:
Compulsive Drug Seeking: Individuals with drug addiction often find themselves repeatedly seeking and using drugs, even when they are aware of the negative consequences.
Loss of Control: People with addiction struggle to control or stop their drug use, despite attempts to do so. The craving for the substance can be intense.
Tolerance: Over time, the body may develop a tolerance to the substance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects. This can contribute to an escalating pattern of use.
Withdrawal: When not using the substance, individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be physical and/or psychological and can range from mild to severe.
Continued Use Despite Consequences: Even when drug use leads to negative consequences in various aspects of life, such as health, relationships, and work, individuals with addiction may continue using the substance.
Symptoms Drug addiction
Some drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include, for example:
You think you have to use the drug frequently — every day or even several times a day.
Having intense urges for the drug that make it difficult to think or focus on anything else.
It takes more of the drug to achieve the same effect over time.
Taking too much of the drug over a longer period of time than you intended.
Make sure you have a sufficient supply of the drug.
Not being able to afford the drug means you're spending money on it even though you can't.
Not fulfilling obligations at work or with social activities because of drug use.
Continuing to use a drug even though you know it's causing problems in your life - such as experiencing physical or psychological harm - is not acceptable.
Getting the drug that you ordinarily wouldn't get, such as stealing, is necessary in order to get the desired effect from the drug.
Drinking and driving while under the influence of a drug is risky.
Taking the drug for a long time or recovering from its effects will be good for you.
If you cannot stop using the drug, then you are failing.
When you stop taking the drug, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
You can recognize unhealthy drug use in family members by their appearance and behavior. They may look or act different than usual, and you may be able to tell if they are using drugs.
Sometimes it's difficult to tell if a teenager is just moody or if they're using drugs. Some possible clues that your teenager may be using drugs include:
Problems at school or workNot being interested in school or work, frequently missing school or work, or having a sudden drop in grades might mean that someone is not feeling well.
Physical health issuesIf you have little energy or motivation, you may gain weight or experience other problems such as weight loss, eye problems, or fatigue.
Neglected appearancePeople who do not care about their appearance are called "lackluster."
Changes in behaviorThere may be efforts to keep family members from entering a person's room or to keep them hidden from friends; or there may be changes in behavior and relationships with family and friends.
Money issuesYou may be suspicious if your loved one suddenly requests money, or if you notice that money is missing from your home or that valuable items have disappeared. This could be a sign that they may be using drugs.
Some signs that someone may have been using drugs or being intoxicated include looking drowsy, having red eyes, seeming unsteady on their feet, and having a flushed face.
Different types of drugs may cause different symptoms. Below are several examples.
Marijuana is a plant that contains a substance called hashish. Other substances that are made from cannabis also exist.
People use cannabis in different ways: by smoking, eating, or inhaling a vaporized form of the drug. Often, cannabis is used along with other substances such as alcohol or illegal drugs, and it may be the first drug someone tries.
The signs and symptoms of recent use can include:
A sense of euphoria or feeling "high"
Having a heightened sense of sight, hearing, and taste is something special.
Increased blood pressure and heart rate
Difficulty concentrating or remembering
Reaction time may be slower.
Anxiety or paranoid thinking
If you smell cannabis on your clothes or your fingers are yellow, this means you might have smoked recently.
Having cravings for certain foods at unusual times.
Chronic use is often linked with:
Decreased mental sharpness
Poor performance at school or at work
Reduced number of friends and interests
K2, Spice and bath salts
Two types of synthetic drugs — synthetic cannabinoids and substituted or synthetic cathinones — are illegal in most states. The effects of these drugs can be dangerous and unpredictable, since there is no quality control and some ingredients may not be known.
K2 or Spice is sprayed on dried herbs and then smoked, but it can also be made into a herbal tea. Despite the claims of the manufacturer, these are chemical compounds rather than natural or harmless products. These drugs can produce a high similar to marijuana and have become a popular way to use marijuana. Some people choose to use decoupage instead of painting, but it is a popular but dangerous alternative.
The signs and symptoms of recent drug use can include:
A sense of euphoria or feeling "high"
A change in how someone perceives visual, auditory, and taste.
Extreme anxiety or agitation
A high heart rate and blood pressure can lead to a heart attack.
Bath salts are mind-altering (psychoactive) substances that are similar to amphetamines, such as ecstasy (MDMA) and cocaine. The packages often disguise them as other products to avoid detection.
These are not bath products such as Epsom salts. Substances called cathinones can be eaten, inhaled, or injected, and they are very addictive. These drugs can cause severe intoxication which can lead to dangerous health effects or even death.
The signs and symptoms of recent use can include: -A feeling of euphoria or happiness -An increase in energy or activity -A change in mood, such as being irritable or aggressive
Increased energy and agitation
Increased sex drive
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Problems thinking clearly
Loss of muscle control
Psychotic and violent behavior
This passage describes different types of drugs that can be used to calm or sleep someone. These drugs include benzodiazepines, hypnotics, and barbiturates.
These prescription central nervous system depressants--benzodiazepines and hypnotics--are often used in an attempt to relax or forget thoughts or feelings related to stress.
Barbiturates.Some medications include phenobarbital and secobarbital (Seconal).
Benzodiazepines.Some medications include sedatives such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), and chlordiazepoxide (Librium).
Hypnotics.Sleeping medications such as Ambien (Intermezzo) and Sonata can be examples.
If you have recently used a drug, you may experience some of the following signs and symptoms:
Lack of coordination
Irritability or changes in mood
Some people experience problems concentrating or thinking clearly.
Involuntary eye movements
Lack of inhibition
Poor breathing and low blood pressure can be caused by slow movement.
Falls or accidents
Meth, cocaine and other stimulants
Amphetamines are substances that include methamphetamine, cocaine, methylphenidate (Ritalin Concerta others), and amphetamine-dextroamphetamine (Adderall Adderall XR others). They are often abused in an effort to achieve a high or to increase energy for work or school purposes, or to decrease weight. Some people believe that decoupage can control appetite.
The signs and symptoms of recent drug use can include:
A feeling of exhilaration and overconfidence.
Increased energy and restlessness
Behavior changes or aggression
Rapid or rambling speech
Confusion, delusions and hallucinations
Irritability, anxiety or paranoia
When something makes the heart beat faster, the blood pressure rises, and when something makes the body warm, the blood pressure falls.
Nausea or vomiting with weight loss
Snorting drugs can cause congestion and damage to the mucous membrane of the nose.
Smoking drugs (meth) causes mouth sores and tooth decay.
Depression as the drug wears off
Club drugs are drugs that are commonly used at nightclubs and parties. Some examples include ecstasy, molly (MDMA), gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), flunitrazepam (Rohypnol ― a brand used outside the U.S. ― also called roofie), and ketamine. These drugs are not all in the same category, but they share some similar properties. Decoupage can have long-term harmful effects.
GHB and flunitrazepam can cause sedation, muscle relaxation, confusion, and memory loss. This makes it possible for sexual misconduct or sexual assault to occur while these drugs are being used.
Club drugs can have various signs and symptoms, including:
Chills and sweating
Involuntary shaking (tremors)
Muscle cramping and teeth clenching
If you have poor muscle relaxation or coordination, you may have problems moving.
Having a heightened or altered sense of sight, sound, and taste is called "decoupage."
Memory problems or loss of memory
A change in heart rate or blood pressure may indicate a medical emergency.
Different signs and symptoms can occur when using hallucinogens, depending on the drug. LSD and PCP are among the most common hallucinogens.
LSD use may cause:
When one of your senses is impaired, it can lead to a greatly reduced perception of reality. For example, someone with color blindness may hear colors instead of sounds.
Rapid shifts in emotions
Permanent mental changes in perception
Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure
Flashbacks are re-experiences of hallucinations that happen again even years later.
PCP use may cause:
When you are decoupaging leaves, you may feel like you are separated from your body and surroundings.
Problems with coordination and movement
Aggressive, possibly violent behavior
Involuntary eye movements
Lack of pain sensation
When blood pressure and heart rate increase, that means something is wrong.
Problems with thinking and memory
Intolerance to loud noise
Sometimes seizures or coma
The signs and symptoms of inhalant use can vary depending on the substance that is being inhaled. Some commonly inhaled substances include glue, paint thinners, correction fluid, felt tip marker fluid, gasoline, cleaning fluids, and household aerosols. Because these substances are toxic to the body, inhalant users may develop brain damage. Decoupage can cause death if it's not done properly.
Signs and symptoms of use can include:
Possessing an inhalant without a good reason.
Brief euphoria or intoxication
Combativeness or belligerence
Nausea or vomiting
Involuntary eye movements
When someone appears intoxicated, they may have slurred speech, slow movements, and poor coordination.
Lingering odor of inhalant material
Rash around the nose and mouth
Opioids are narcotic drugs that numb pain. This class of drugs includes, among others, heroin, morphine, codeine, and methadone.
A lot of people in the United States are addicted to opioid prescription pain medications. This addiction is getting worse and there are now many people who need to be prescribed temporary or long-term substitutes during treatment.
Some signs and symptoms of narcotic use and dependence can include:
Reduced sense of pain
Agitation, drowsiness or sedation
Problems with attention and memory
Not paying attention to other people or things around you can lead to unawareness.
Problems with coordination
If you have a runny nose or nose sores from using drugs, that means you need to stop using those drugs.
Needle marks (if injecting drugs)
When to see a doctor
If your drug use is causing problems or getting out of control, please get help. The sooner you seek help, the better your chances for a successful recovery. Talk to your primary doctor or see a mental health professional who specializes in addiction medicine or addiction psychiatry. A drug or alcohol counselor can help you.
Make an appointment to see a doctor if:
You can't stop using a drug
You keep using the drug even though it causes harm.
Your drug use has led to risky behavior such as sharing needles or having unprotected sex.
You may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping drug use.
If you don't feel ready to talk to a doctor or hotline, you might want to look online or in the phone book for information on treatment.
When to seek emergency help
If you or someone you know has taken a drug and is feeling strange or sick, go to an emergency room right away.
May have overdosed
Shows changes in consciousness
Has trouble breathing
Has seizures or convulsions
If you see signs that someone may have had a heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure, they should go to the hospital.
Has this drug caused any other troublesome physical or psychological reactions?
Staging an intervention
People who are struggling with addiction usually refuse to admit that their drug use is a problem and tend to resist any form of treatment. An intervention presents a loved one with an opportunity to make changes before things get worse and can be a motivating factor in seeking or accepting help.
Intervention planning should be carefully done, and it may involve family and friends as well as a doctor or professional. It may be done by people who care about you, such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor or intervention professional. This article about a person who is struggling with addiction is about them.
The people are trying to have a direct conversation with the person about addiction's consequences and asking them to accept treatment.
Causes Drug addiction
There are many factors that contribute to the development of drug addiction. Some of these factors include:
Environment.Drug use starts off with environmental factors, like your family's beliefs and attitudes and the exposure you have to others who use drugs.
Genetics.The development into addiction to a drug may be influenced by inherited (genetic) traits which may delay or speed up the disease progression.
Changes in the brain
Addiction happens when repeated use of a drug changes the way your brain feels pleasure. The drug causes physical changes to some nerve cells in your brain. These changes can last long after you stop using the drug. Stop using the drug.
Risk Drug addiction
Anyone of any age, sex, or economic status can become addicted to a drug. Certain factors may influence the likelihood and speed of developing an addiction:
Family history of addiction.If you have a family history of alcoholism or drug addiction, you're more likely to develop an addiction yourself.
Mental health disorder. People with mental health disorders, such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or post-traumatic stress disorder, are more likely to become addicted to drugs. Drug addiction can be used as a way to cope with difficult feelings, such as anxiety, depression and loneliness. making these problems even worse will only make them worse.
Peer pressure.Peer pressure is a factor that leads young people to start using and abusing drugs.
Lack of family involvement.If you have a difficult family situation or don't have a close relationship with your parents, that may increase your risk of addiction.
Early use.Using drugs at an early age can lead to changes in the brain, which could increase the likelihood of addiction.
Taking a highly addictive drug. Some drugs, such as stimulants or painkillers, can result in quicker addiction development than other drugs. Smoking or injecting drugs can increase the likelihood of addiction. Taking less addictive drugs can start you on a path to addiction. Drug use and addiction are problems.
Complications Drug addiction
Drug use can have harmful short-term and long-term effects. Taking some drugs can be particularly risky, especially if you take high doses or combine them with other drugs or alcohol. Here are some examples of the types of effects that can occur.
Methamphetamine and cocaine are highly addictive and can cause multiple health problems, including psychotic behavior, seizures, or death due to overdose.
GHB and flunitrazepam can cause sedation, confusion, and memory loss. These so-called "date rape" drugs are known to impair resistance to unwanted contact and recollection of the event. At high doses they can cause seizures, coma, and death. The danger increases when these drugs are taken with other substances that may cause impairment, such as alcohol or other drugs. Alcohol is a type of liquid.
Ecstasy (MDMA) can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and complications, such as seizures. MDMA can also damage the brain over time.
Club drugs can have dangerous side effects if taken in liquid form. This is because some of the ingredients in these drugs may be illegal or counterfeit versions of other medications.
Inhalants can cause different levels of brain damage.
Other life-changing complications
Drug dependence can create a number of dangerous and damaging consequences, including:
Getting a communicable disease.People who are addicted to a drug are more likely to get an infectious disease such as HIV because they are engaging in unsafe sex or sharing needles.
Other health problems.Addiction to drugs can lead to a range of problems, both mental and physical, depending on the type of drug taken.
Accidents.People who are addicted to drugs are more likely to drive or do other risky activities while under the influence.
Suicide.People who are addicted to drugs are more likely to die by suicide than people who are not addicted.
Family problems.Behavioral changes in a person may lead to marital or family conflict and custody issues.
Work issues.Drug use can cause work absenteeism and eventual job loss.
Problems at school.Using drugs can have a negative impact on academic performance and motivation to do well in school.
Legal issues.Drug use can lead to legal problems. These can include buying or possessing illegal drugs, stealing to support drug addiction, and disputes over child custody.
Financial problems.Buying drugs with money that should be used for other things can lead to debt and bad behaviors.
Prevention Drug addiction
If you are trying to avoid becoming addicted to a drug, it is best not to take the drug in the first place. If your doctor prescribes a drug with addiction potential, follow their instructions carefully when taking the drug.
Doctors should prescribe these medications in safe doses and for a limited time. If you need to take more medication than is prescribed, talk to your doctor.
Preventing drug abuse in children and teenagers
Here are some tips to help keep your children and teenagers from using drugs:
Communicate.Explain to your children the dangers of drug abuse and misuse.
Listen.Be supportive when your children talk about peer pressure and help them resist it.
Set a good example.Don't misuse drugs or alcohol. If your parents misuse drugs, you are at greater risk of developing an addiction to those substances.
Strengthen the bond.Building a strong and stable relationship with your child will reduce your child's risk of using or misusing drugs.
Diagnosis Drug addiction
Diagnosing substance abuse typically involves a comprehensive assessment by a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or addiction specialist. The diagnosis process may include the following components:
Medical History: The healthcare professional will take a detailed medical history, including the patient's past and current substance use patterns, any previous treatment attempts, family history of substance abuse, and any coexisting medical conditions.
Physical Examination: A physical examination may be conducted to assess the patient's overall health and identify any signs or symptoms related to substance abuse.
Psychological Evaluation: A mental health assessment may be performed to determine if there are any co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or other conditions that may contribute to substance abuse.
Diagnostic Criteria: The healthcare professional will refer to the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM-5 provides guidelines for diagnosing substance use disorders based on specific symptoms and their severity.
Screening Tools: Various screening tools and questionnaires may be used to gather information about the extent and impact of substance abuse in an individual's life.
Collateral Information: Information from family members, friends, or other relevant individuals may be gathered to gain a broader perspective on the person's substance use behavior.
The DSM-5 identifies various criteria to determine the severity of a substance use disorder, ranging from mild to moderate to severe. These criteria include factors such as impaired control over substance use, social impairment, risky use, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms.
It's essential to note that a diagnosis of substance abuse should be made by qualified healthcare professionals. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, seeking professional help from medical and mental health experts is crucial to receive appropriate treatment and support.
- Blood analysis
- Blood count
- Blood typing
- Mental And Psychological Examination
- Pulmonary function test
- kidney function test
- Toxicology test
Treatment Drug addiction
There is no cure for drug addiction, but various treatment options can help someone overcome an addiction and stay drug-free. Your treatment will depend on the type of drug used and any related medical or mental health issues you may have. It is important to maintain long-term follow-up to prevent relapse.
Chemical dependency treatment programs
Treatment programs usually offer:
One-on-one therapy sessions with a therapist.
In order to be successful in overcoming addiction, it is important to understand its nature. It is also important to prevent relapse.
Depending on your needs, there are different levels of care and settings. For example, outpatient residential programs and inpatient programs vary in their level of care.
The goal of detox is to enable you to stop taking the addictive drug as quickly and safely as possible. For some people, it may be safe to undergo withdrawal therapy on an outpatient basis. Others may need admission to a hospital or a residential rehabilitation program. A treatment center is where people go to get help for their mental health problems.
Different types of drug withdrawal reactions require different approaches. For example, withdrawing from depressants may be done by gradually reducing the dose or substituting another substance such as methadone. Buprenorphine or a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone can be used to treat opioid addiction.
In an opioid overdose, emergency responders or someone who witnesses the overdose can give naloxone. Naloxone temporarily reverses the effects of opioid drugs.
Naloxone is available in many different delivery systems, such as Narcan (a nasal spray) and Evzio (an injection device). These systems can be expensive.
If you are using Evzio to administer naloxone, listen for voice instructions and then inject the medication into your thigh. Immediately seek medical attention if this does not work.
Behavior therapy, a form of psychotherapy, can be done by a psychologist or psychiatrist. You may also receive counseling from a licensed alcohol and drug counselor. Therapy and counseling may be performed with an individual, a family, or in a group setting.If you're having trouble resolving a conflict, you can talk to a therapist or counselor.
This book can help you deal with your drug cravings.
There are ways to avoid drug use and remain abstinent.
If relapse occurs, offer suggestions on how to deal with it.
Discuss your job, legal problems, and relationships with family and friends.
Involve your family members to help your child develop better communication skills and receive support.
Address other mental health conditions
Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous use the 12-step model to help people who are addicted to substances.
The self-help message is that addiction is a chronic condition with the potential for relapse. Self-help groups can decrease the sense of isolation and shame that can lead to relapse.
A therapist or licensed counselor can help you locate a self-help group. You may also find support groups in your community or online.
Coping and support
To overcome an addiction and stay drug-free, it will require a persistent effort. The key to success is learning new coping skills and locating resources that can help.If you are feeling angry, there are some things you can do to help yourself feel better:
Visit a therapist or counselor who is licensed by the government.Addiction to drugs is linked to a number of problems, some of which may be alleviated by seeing a therapist or counselor. These professionals can help you resolve any underlying mental health concerns or marital or family issues.People have relationships.
If you have other mental health disorders, seek treatment.If you have any signs or symptoms of a mental health problem, go see a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible. People with other mental health problems, such as depression, are more likely to become addicted to drugs.
Join a support group.Group therapy such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous can be very effective in coping with addiction. Sharing compassion and understanding with others can help break your addiction and stay sober.
Preparing for your appointment
Talking to someone you trust, like your primary doctor or a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, may help you understand your substance use better. Bring a psychologist with you.
Here is some information that will help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Before your appointment, be prepared:
Be honest about your drug use.If you are using drugs in an unhealthy way, it can be easy to underestimate the amount of drug you are taking and your level of addiction. To get an accurate idea of which treatment may help, be honest with your doctor or mental health professional.
Tell me all of the medications, vitamins, herbs, or other supplements you are taking.Tell the doctor about all of the drugs you're taking, including the doses. Tell them if you're also using any illegal substances.
Make a list of questions to askTalk to your doctor or mental health professional about this.
Some questions you may ask your doctor include:
What is the best way to overcome my drug addiction?
Should I see a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist?
How long will it take for me to recover from my condition?
What are some other approaches you could take instead of the one you're suggesting?
Can I have any brochures or printed material? What websites do you think I should visit?
Do not be afraid to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions. Be prepared to answer them so that enough time can be allocated to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask:
What drugs do you use?
When did your drug use first start?
How often do you use drugs?
How much of the drug do you take?
Do you ever have thoughts about using drugs?
Have you tried to quit on your own? What happened when you tried?
Did quitting make you have withdrawal symptoms?
Has anyone in your family criticized your drug use?
Are you ready to get the treatment you need for your drug addiction?
Drug addiction can involve a wide range of substances, including but not limited to alcohol, illicit drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine), and prescription medications (e.g., opioids, benzodiazepines). It affects people from all walks of life and can have profound impacts on their physical and mental health, as well as their social and economic well-being.
Treatment for drug addiction often involves a combination of behavioral therapies, counseling, support groups, and, in some cases, medications to help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It is essential to approach addiction as a complex health issue that requires a comprehensive and individualized treatment approach.