Please Note: This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.
Addiction to drugs is a chronic and deadly disease which induces uncontrollable drug seeking and use, despite knowing the harmful consequences, and which can cause severe and irreversible changes in the brain.
The changes in the brain, caused by drug-taking, can also lead to severe and harmful behaviors in the user.
Being addicted to anything is awful for the sufferer, but to be addicted to drugs, whether prescription, recreational, or hard drugs, the effects can be catastrophic if intervention isn’t rapid and thorough.
Some people can use recreational drugs, such as cocaine and cannabis, with no adverse effects, whereas for others, they can become an obsession, which leads to addiction.
Heroin and cocaine can often lead to addiction, and those affected are unable to control their urge to take the drug and will often do anything to obtain it.
Prescription medication is often given to those who are suffering from some pain. However, it isn’t unheard of for people to become addicted to the very drugs which are supposed to be helping them.
Many people take drugs, but what makes one person able to manage their usage and another to become an addict?
Many factors may make you more susceptible to one drug over another.
Varying factors as to why some people are more likely to become addicted include the biological make-up of your body, how sensitive you may be to a specific drug, and the chemical components of the drug itself.
There are many theories as to why some people are more susceptible to becoming addicts than others. Still, the most feasible theory, in the medical world, seems to be that the addict has a biological vulnerability to addiction before they even began to use the drug.
Drugs contain various chemicals that flood the brain’s communication system and interrupt the way nerve cells send, receive, and process information.
The brain is therefore severely compromised when drugs are taken and cause euphoria to flood the ‘reward circuit’ with the chemical messengers, dopamine and opioid peptide which flood the brain with feelings of being ‘high.’
After the high, there is a neurochemical rebound which causes the reward function of the brain to drop to below normal levels of activity – simply put, the user of the drug never again achieves the first ‘high’ sensation as they did initially and keep trying to make it by continuous use of the drug.
Prolonged use of a drug causes chemical changes in the brain that alters its reward system, prompting it to desire further usage of the drug in the face of the negative consequences.
Drug addiction is thought of as being a brain disease because of the way the drugs change the brain’s structure and usage, during use which can affect judgment, decision-making, learning, and memory, as well as behavior.
When the drug user gets to the point where they are constantly in the pursuit of the drug’s rewards, and the taking of the drug no longer becomes a function of choice, the user is viewed as an addict.
Drug addiction typically happens slowly, beginning with voluntary and occasional use, then increasing to drug abuse until it becomes a full-scale addiction.
Once the user gets to the point where drugs are the only thing on their mind, regardless of the adverse effects, then an addiction has formed.
Addiction is often viewed as a chronic disease, which means the sufferer can have relapses if they fail to comply with their treatment.
There are a variety of drug programs, medications, and therapies to help with drug addiction.
Supervised treatment is essential for most addicts as trying to wean oneself off a drug, is a hard and often fatal experience.
Medication is often used in the detoxification process to help with the drug addict’s withdrawal symptoms.
Medication can help to manage and suppress withdrawal symptoms – detoxication is the first process in the detoxication process.
They are usually prescribed to improve brain function, reduce cravings, and to try and prevent relapses.
Opioids such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are commonly used for drug addiction treatment.
Anti-depressants, such as Prozac and Paxil, are also useful in treating drug addiction as they increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, which balances moods and controls behavior, which, in turn, helps reduce the drug cravings.
Alongside medication, psychotherapy is encouraged as if patients don’t receive any further treatment after detoxication, and they usually resume their drug addiction.
CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy is offered as a form of treatment for drug addicts as it can help the user identify drug-related triggers and to help manage challenging situations that could lead back to drug abuse.
Other talking therapies include multi-dimensional family therapy, which helps your family cope with the stress of drug addiction for the user as well as those involved emotionally with the addict, and motivational enhancement therapy, which helps with the changing of the drug user’s thought patterns and behaviors.
Based on scientific research, it is thought that for treatment to be effective that addicts have to be treated as individuals as no one treatment fixes all.
It is believed that for the treatment to be effective, it has to be acknowledged by all those involved, that the process is going to belong, no relapses are allowed, but that addiction is a complex but treatable disease.
So, the best way to treat drug abuse is by:
- Behavioral counseling
- Medical devices and application used to treat withdrawal symptoms
- Treatment of depression and anxiety alongside the main program
- Follow-up programs are essential
It is essential that people seek help with drug abuse as there are thought to be globally, over 35 million people who suffer from drug use disorders.
Because drug addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t just stop taking the drug for a few days, and then be cured.
What we have to accept is that treatment is seldom straightforward and can be a long and painful journey for the addict.
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