Understanding Drug Addiction and Abuse Can Help You Relate to Addicts and Offer Them Help.
When we review the facts about addiction, than understanding drug addiction isn’t hard to do. Addiction is a compulsive, repetitive behavior pattern that is difficult to control or stop. This includes drug addiction, which is considered a brain disease because drugs alter the physical and functional aspects of the brain. When someone abuses a drug, he can become both physically and psychologically addicted to the drug.
In the past, drug addicts were considered immoral and weak-willed, but that stigma has been lessened over time. The complexities of drug addiction can overtake a person regardless of their willpower or moral compass. In the U.S. many people become addicted to their prescription pain medications, even when the medication is being taken at the correct dosage. The brain and body chemistry becomes altered with the use of drugs, and that is a part of what makes it difficult to stop.
To better understand the phrase “What is drug abuse,” consider a person suffering with chronic pain who has been put on painkillers by his doctor. His body may build up a tolerance to the drug and the drug may become ineffective unless he takes more of the drug – which becomes abuse that may lead to addiction. If he increases the dosage, or takes the drug for a longer period of time than what is considered safe, he is abusing the drug. Drug addicts who take drugs for recreational purposes also suffer the same consequences as anyone else. There are many reasons why someone will abuse drugs and below are some examples:
- People who suffer from co-occurring mental disorders may use drugs to control their mental problems.
- People who are struggling with a physical disease or handicap, or a person facing a terminal illness may look for an escape by using drugs.
- People who were raised in a household where there was drug abuse are more likely to abuse drugs themselves.
- People under a lot of stress may use drugs to “chill out” and unwind.
- People who have been abused, neglected or traumatized in some way may begin to use drugs.
- Poverty, peer pressure and other environmental factors may be a precursor to drug abuse.
- People who suffer with chronic pain may abuse drugs.
Most people voluntarily decide to use drugs for different reasons, and then get caught up in abuse and addiction. Once the brain is physically, chemically or psychologically altered, it is very difficult to stop using drugs. Brain changes will cause a persistent, craving demand for the drug that the addict may not be able to resist, regardless of his willpower and intentions. But with the proper recovery treatment, anyone can be delivered from drug abuse and addiction. Some drug addiction symptoms that impair the brain are:
- memory loss
- impairment in learning, cognition, decision making and judgment
- a change in behavior patterns
Drug abuse and addiction can cause a myriad of drug addiction symptoms such as:
- Muscle cramps
- Mood swings
- Paranoia and confusion
- Risky behavior
- Shaking or tremors
- Sweating and chills
- Dilated pupils
- Drug cravings
- A change in sleep patterns
- A loss of appetite
- Slurred speech
- staggered walking
- Nausea, vomiting & diarrhea
- Jaw or teeth grinding
An addict may isolate himself from family and friends and prefer to be with people who abuse drugs. His school or work performance and attendance may suffer and he could be expelled or fired. Other drug addiction symptoms common among addicts include borrowing or stealing money to get their drug. They may commit a criminal activity to get the money they need for their drug. Many drug addicts suffer financial loss and some become incarcerated. Lying, manipulation and covering-up their activities become the new normal. They may become over-sensitive, angry, hostile or resentful. Risky behavior may cause addicts to have accidents or contract sexually-transmitted diseases. They may suffer extreme weight loss and become malnourished. And sadly, many addicts become estranged from their family, spouse and children, and suffer loneliness and depression.
Anyone can learn how to help someone with drug addiction. Usually the first step is to hold an intervention to get the addict to agree to receive recovery treatment. However, you don’t need the addict’s approval to successfully have him treated for drug addiction. Once an addict is in a drug rehab center he will slowly be weaned off of any offending drugs, and then he will begin a series of other therapies to help him heal and prepare for a life without drugs. There are many resources and detox/rehab facilities that can help you if someone you love is dealing with drug addiction.
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.