Drug addiction is a pervasive condition that causes considerable damage to the addicted. The specific drugs determine the effects. However, all forms of addictions are dangerous and can result in death if not treated. Addiction is dependence on a particular substance to function. The clinical definition of addiction indicates that the user must be affected negatively.
Many people start taking drugs as a way of having fun and to experiment or try a new thing. This does not constitute an addiction, at least in its initial stages. The line between fun and addiction is crossed when the substance becomes the central focus of the person’s life. In that stage, taking the substance is what the person lives for. There are two types of drug dependencies, physical and psychological. Some substances create one type of addiction while others create both.
Physical addiction refers to a situation where an addict’s body cannot function normally unless it gets the substance. In such a case, the brain’s pathways are re-written, changing the functioning of the mind. Another symptom of physical addiction is tolerance. This refers to a state where the body requires more and more to maintain the same feeling. When the addict stops using the substance, he/she will experience withdrawal symptoms that include vomiting, seizures and shaking among others.
Even if they do not create a physical addiction, most drugs create a psychological addiction. This refers to a craving for the substance and everything associated with it. The desire is so distinct from physical addiction because psychological addicts do not experience withdrawal symptoms even if they do not get the drug of their choice. However, the craving can be so overwhelming causing as much distress as a physical addiction.
Addicts may increase their tolerance meaning it would take more of the substance to get a high or decrease meaning it takes less of the substance to get a high. The addict will also experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. These symptoms include hand tremors, sweating, insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, hallucinations, seizures and physical agitation.
Many addicts will attempt to stop using the substance without much success. The addict will also use more of the substance or spend more time trying to get the substance. One of the most distinct symptoms of an addiction is that the person will stop doing things that they used to like. For example, if the addict used to like walks in the park, or playing soccer or basketball, he/she would stop doing these activities.
The behavioral and physical symptoms constitute addiction. Because addiction is a disease that can relapse, researchers recommend that rehabilitation programs should come up with booster sessions for people who relapse.
Prescription Drug Abuse
This often starts as a harmless habit because prescriptions drugs help alleviate pain or distress. Because the drugs are prescribed and legal, most users take them with a clear conscience and even abuse them but would not view it as such.
With time, the user begins to take more because the body develops a form of tolerance for the drugs. Eventually they get addicted and would do anything to obtain the drugs. Addicts turn to doctors to get as much as they can and eventually turn to buying from the black market.
The constant intake of prescription drugs is harmful to the body and may affect the functioning of organs and tissues in the body.
Beside the fact that cocaine is illegal and can land a person in jail, the drug is extremely harmful to the body. A cocaine addict may end up burning a hole in their nasal cavity; have constant bloody nose and sinus infections.
The constant sniffing and resultant runny nose leaves a chapped area under the nostril. In addition, cocaine is a stimulant and speeds up the heart rate. This does not just affect the circulatory system but it also affects vision. Finally, prolonged use of cocaine can lead to death.
Many people believe marijuana should be legalized. Some states have done this already while others allow use for medicinal purposes. Because marijuana is natural, some people believe that marijuana should not be classified as a drug. The truth is, marijuana is a drug. There is proof that marijuana destroys brain cells and causes respiratory problems.
Street Drug Dependence
Meth, crack, mushrooms, acid and cocaine are all available on the streets for anyone looking for them. These drugs are all dangerous. Crack, meth and cocaine kill people every day by causing their hearts just to give up. Acid users can have flashbacks for years. Besides the prospects of being imprisoned, even those who escape jail time would not want to risk losing their families, jobs and lives.
Over-the-counter drugs like cough, cold and sinus medicines contain ephedrine and Dramamine. These substances have been known to create some form of high if taken enough. This makes such over the counter medications a convenient and available choice for many schoolchildren.
For example, some children take as much as 8-10 cold or cough tablets. Most of these drugs cause PCP like hallucinations, increase the heart rate and create other symptoms similar to an anxiety attack. Cold and cough medicines are also highly addictive.
Marijuana and Opiates
These drugs are designed to affect the brain’s neurotransmitters. They trick the brain and activate cells in the brain, which makes the brain send abnormal messages.
When people use stimulants like meth and cocaine, the drugs make their nerve cells release more natural neurotransmitters than normal. The drugs can also make neurotransmitters to stop recycling, which cause a disruption in the brain’s normal communication system.
Almost all drugs target the brain’s reward system. This causes the brain to release extra dopamine. Dopamine is a natural chemical that controls emotions and other pleasurable feelings. When people continue using drugs, the brain gets used to the continued flood of dopamine and starts to release less of it or may lower the amount of dopamine receptors in its reward system. This makes the produced dopamine have less impact when released to the brain. This is how tolerance develops making the person start using more drugs in the desperate effort to seek the pleasure they once experienced.
This is one of the most common causes of drug abuse. It stems from the fact that the addict wants to escape some underlying emotional pain or trauma.
An unexpected job loss may lead a person into drugs. Such an incident make the victim feel inadequate and undermines their self-confidence and esteem. This makes them flee from their troubles by seeking a high.
Arguments and lack of a peaceful home can lead people to drugs. Many addicts feel that drugs will give them a release from their marital problems or tension at home.
Some people are more susceptible to drug addiction. Genetics has a role to play in some addiction cases. Once the person gets the high from the drug, he/she would crave for more.
This encompasses all the causes of drug addiction. Some addicts just feel that they must relax, mentally shutdown or escape.
Drug addiction is a chronic mental disease. Individuals who abuse drugs can easily become addicted. Drug addiction alters the brain structure and function. This results in harmful side effects. The changes make users to display adverse behavioral and physical symptoms. However, addicts should be taken care of, loved and supported. With therapy and counseling, addicts can resume normal lives.