Drug addiction, also called substance abuse, is a condition where an individual continues to use a drug despite its negative effects. Addiction is a serious, chronic disease because of the way that drugs change your brain. An addicted person’s brain makes them crave, seek, and use substances, even when their drug use is creating problems with their lives and their health. This is because drugs alter the way that your brain releases dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel happy and relaxed. Your brain learns to rely on a drug to release these chemicals, which makes it difficult for you to get positive feelings from other activities. This leads you down a path of chronic drug abuse, which can negatively impact all aspects of your life.
Signs of Drug Addiction
No matter what substance a person is abusing, they tend to have similar patterns in their behaviors. These behaviors are a direct result of drug addiction and can vary depending on what drug you are abusing. There are many different signs that you can look for to try and figure out if you or someone you know is an addict. These signs can include:
- Changing friend groups to spend time with other people who take drugs.
- Spending a lot of time alone.
- Stopping activities or hobbies you used to enjoy.
- Not taking care of your personal hygiene or physical appearance.
- Feeling tired or sad all of the time.
- Losing or gaining a significant amount of weight.
- Having too much energy.
- Talking fast, or saying things that do not make sense.
- Often being angry, or having violent outbursts.
- Having frequent, severe mood swings.
- Having a strange or unreliable sleep schedule.
- Having problems fulfilling your obligations at work or at school.
- Having frequent problems within your personal relationships.
Showing just one of these signs may not mean that someone is an addict. But if you or someone you know is showing two or more of them, there is a chance an addiction is a cause.
Types of Drugs
There are many different types of drugs that people can abuse and become addicted to. But most of these drugs can be put into one of seven different categories based on their effects. These include:
These drugs affect a user’s central nervous system by slowing it down. Depressants are often called “downers”, and are usually prescription medications used for conditions like anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and insomnia. The most common depressants are barbiturates, Xanax, Valium, and benzodiazepines.
The complete opposite of depressants are stimulants, which speed up a user’s central nervous system. These drugs are often called “uppers”. Some are illegal drugs, while others are medications prescribed for conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, and seizure disorders. Some stimulants are also used for weight loss, as they reduce appetite. The most common stimulants are Ritalin, Adderall, cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy.
These drugs create a distorted perception of reality, making people “disassociate”, or feel like they are watching themselves from outside of their own body. This often gives users a false sense of invincibility, making them more likely to participate in risky behaviors. The most common dissociative are ketamine, PCP, and DXM.
Hallucinogens are illegal drugs that create distortions in a person’s perception of reality. Common examples include LSD, mescaline, salvia, and psilocybin or “magic mushrooms.”
Most inhalants are everyday household items that cause a brief feeling of euphoria when they are inhaled, or “huffed.” The most commonly abused inhalants are markers, paint, gasoline, paint thinner, nitrous oxide, aerosol sprays, and room deodorizers.
Opioids are powerful painkillers that are meant to treat moderate to severe pain in people with chronic conditions, terminal diseases, or have had recent surgery. They are made from the opium poppy plant, and are extremely addictive. Some examples of opioids are hydrocodone, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, Codeine, morphine, and even heroin.
Most commonly referred to as marijuana, weed, and pot, cannabis is one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States. While it is still illegal in many states, some have authorized recreational use and medicinal use for people suffering from chronic pain and other conditions. Cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, and infused into candy or foods, often called “edibles.”
How Does Drug Addiction Affect Your Health?
Drug addiction can have many different negative effects on a person’s health. This is because our bodies are not meant to process large amounts of drugs on a regular basis. The effects that you may experience can be different depending on what drug you are abusing, how often you are using it, and how much you are taking. In general, these negative effects can include:
- For people who snort drugs, problems with the nasal passages and lungs.
- For people who inject drugs, needle marks, collapsed veins, and an increased chance of getting serious skin, muscle, or blood infections from frequent injections or from using a dirty needle.
- Damage to the liver, kidneys, lungs, or heart.
- Chronic breathing problems.
- A higher chance of cancers, including liver, throat, esophageal, breast, and kidney cancers.
- Short or long term problems with your brain, including memory problems, depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
- A higher chance of being infected with HIV or hepatitis from sharing needles or having unsafe sex.
Drug Addiction Treatment
The most difficult thing for an addict to admit is that they have a drug problem – and the second most difficult thing is asking for help. But without the guidance of a rehab center, most addicts are extremely unlikely to be able to kick their habit on their own. Thanks to recovery programs, no matter how severe your addiction is it is possible to get help and successfully overcome it. Rehab treatment programs help addicts to stop using drugs and stay drug-free. There are many different drug rehab treatment programs available. These can include:
- Medical detox to help addicts work through withdrawal symptoms.
- Behavioral therapy programs to treat underlying mental health issues and drug use triggers.
- Stress management techniques.
- Medications to lessen cravings and long-term withdrawal symptoms.
- Long-term care, including tools and treatments to prevent relapse.
These programs will be offered as a part of both inpatient and outpatient residential programs. These programs are the most effective at treating drug addiction. But for a rehab program to be successful, it must be customized to suit the individual needs of every addict. Not every person will benefit from every treatment. To ensure long-term success in sobriety, your rehab center should work with you to assess what programs will work best to help you get clean and be able to stay that way.
No matter what type of drug you are addicted to, you do not have to keep letting it control your life. With a variety of treatment options available, rehab treatment centers exist solely to help people like you get back on the path to a happy, healthy life.