A quick guide to understanding drug abuse and the effects of addiction

Drug abuse and addiction has become a growing epidemic in the United States, one that accounts for increasing numbers of deaths due to overdoses and complications from abuse. The new face of drug addiction includes people from every section of society, from dedicated athletes who became addicted after an injury, to patients who followed dosing guidelines and ended up going through withdrawal.  The simplistic outlook of the past where anyone addicted to drugs was considered to be weak-willed has obviously been proven false, so we need new information that presents a more realistic picture of substance abuse. This short guide can serve as a starting point to understanding drug abuse and addiction.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic disease where individuals engage in drug seeking behavior and use intoxicating substances despite harmful or negative consequences. Most drug addiction starts with a voluntary decision to take drugs, either for enjoyment or as prescribed for a medical condition. Drug use does not always lead to addiction, and addiction is not contingent on the amount of substance used.

Once someone begins taking drugs, changes occur within their brain and body. Changes in the addicted person’s brain interfere with self-control, so they become unable to resist the urge to take drugs. The user’s body can develop a tolerance to the drug, so that it takes larger doses to produce the same effects. Users take more and more of the drug, speeding addiction and causing them to become physically dependent upon the drug. Trying to stop drug use produces intense withdrawal symptoms

Effects of drug addiction

The effects of drug abuse and addiction produce noticeable changes in the affected individual’s behavior. These changes can occur in a remarkably short period of time, depending on the severity of the addiction. If you are wondering if someone you know is abusing drugs, the following effects can be a strong indication that drug addiction may be a problem:

  • Abrupt changes in personality
  • Drug seeking behavior
  • Withdrawal from friends and loved ones
  • Lying and broken promises that damage personal relationships
  • Loss of interest in school, work, and other activities
  • Financial difficulties that can lead to stealing drugs, money, and valuable items
  • Continued drug use despite these negative effects

Drug addiction facts

A look at some of the facts of drug addiction makes it clear just how pervasive the problem is.

  • Drug addiction is not a matter of choice. Individuals can become addicted to drugs against their will
  • Addiction to prescription drugs is just as deadly as addiction to illegal drugs
  • There is no way to predict whether someone will become addicted to drugs
  • Susceptibility to addiction is dependent on a number of elements, including genetic, physiological, and environmental factors
  • Once users becomes addicted to drugs, they will be vulnerable to relapse for years and potentially their whole lives
  • Drug addiction cannot be cured, but it can be treated and successfully managed

Treatment for drug addiction

Individuals suffering from drug addiction can choose from several different treatment settings and options to find the one that best suits their lifestyle, addiction needs, and budget. The most effective treatment for drug addiction involves a multi-pronged approach that utilizes a variety of therapies, including group and individual therapy combined with cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients learn coping strategies, ways to avoid triggers that can spur drug abuse, and relapse prevention techniques to help ensure long-term recovery.

Drug addiction treatment can take place in an outpatient or inpatient rehab setting. Inpatient drug rehab centers typically offer 30, 60, and 90-day treatment plans, with stays of up to 120 days or longer for the most severe cases of drug addiction. Generally, the longer addiction treatment programs are the most effective.


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.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.