Addiction and overdose happens when too much is not enough. The precursor to addiction is a gradual buildup of tolerance levels for a particular drug or alcohol. As tolerance to the drug increases, it naturally takes larger and larger doses to get the same effects. Part of the danger of addiction is that the incremental increases may seem insignificant. However, each increase progressively deepens drug dependence and start the process of addiction.
According to neuroscientist, most drugs directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system. Therefore, as a person continues to consume more and more drugs, the brain begins to adapt to the regular influx of dopamine by producing less of its own. Eventually, the impact of dopamine on the reward circuit is lessened which drive the need for increased doses of the drug to maintain dopamine levels. Addiction is in full swing when the individual becomes preoccupied and obsesses with drug seeking and compulsive using in order to get high, feel normal or avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Reports about the deaths of celebrities like Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson in the months and weeks leading up to their deaths, suggested a dangerous pattern of consuming large amounts of prescription drugs.
Four years after Elvis Presley’s death, it was established in court that the amount of drugs he was prescribed and consumed in the months immediately following his death far exceeded safe limits. According to court records, in seven and a half months, Elvis’s doctor had written prescriptions for 8,805 intravenous injections, pills, tablets and vials of drugs. Other reports also indicate that the star had other sources of supply.
Michael Jackson’s addiction to prescription drugs was only revealed after his death. In a document obtained by CNN, a former Jackson employer suggested that he took as much as 30 to 40 Xanax pills at night.
When Too Much is Not Enough
Many people like these stars who die from a drug overdose reached the point when too much was just never enough. In most of these cases, if the person received help in a timely manner, their life may have been saved. Some of the warning signs that drug use has exceeded safe limits include:
- An Insatiable drug craving
- A constant and obsessive preoccupation with always having access to drugs
- Taking copious amounts of prescription pills or illicit drugs for sleep, pain or to get high
- The individual has experienced one or more overdose events or trips to the emergency room because of drug or alcohol abuse.
- The individual cannot be reasoned with to reduce or control the amount of drugs they consume on a daily basis.
- Excessive use of drugs continues despite ill health or other consequences.
When drug use has become uncontrollable it is time to seek help. Unfortunately, people at this stage of addiction are usually unable or unwilling to address the problem on their own. Without an intervention from their family and friends most people whose drug use has become excessive eventually experience a drug overdose event from which they may not recover.
If you believe that your drug use has reached a point where too much is not enough or know someone struggling with addiction, help is available. Drug treatment programs help to stop daily drug use and address the underlying reasons for the drug abuse. Various treatment options are now available that help to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and provide the tools, techniques and medication to manage drug cravings.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.