What Is Addiction?
We’ve all heard of addiction whether it’s to Facebook, TV, junk food, or drugs. However, it might be difficult to define what addiction is and how it’ related to drug addiction. For people to seek help through rehab/recovery, the process starts with first admitting they have a problem. That happens when people can define and recognize their addiction.
What Is an Addiction?
It is one of the most important issues to address. An addition is caused by an urge that’s too strong to control. It is even true when a person knows something like drugs or alcohol are causing them harm.
People who start using something don’t have a plan to become addicted. They do something because it causes good feelings. They think they can control how often they do, use, or take something.
However, the problem is after time people need to do something just to feel “normal.” That’s what addiction is. It’s possible to be addicted to just about anything. However, within the time it can start taking over a person’s life.
The TV show “My Strange Addiction” includes some of the unique additions including:
- Eating drywall
- Eating Couch Cushions
- Eating toilet paper
- Drinking Nail Polish
- Snorting Baby Powder
- Relationship with Car
It’s important to note that addiction is a brain disease. When people become addicted to drugs, it alters how the brain functions. These changes can be long-term. Also, they can also cause various problems like memory loss, mood swings, and problems thinking and deciding.
One mistake people often make referring to addiction as a weakness. It’s not a personality/character flaw. It’s instead a disease like cancer and diabetes. It’s possible for anyone to become an addict of anything like drugs. Addiction can happen to people of any age although it usually starts at a young age.
What Causes Addiction?
Drug addiction happens when someone has a compulsion to do drugs. It results in them using it repeatedly and using more of it. There are also withdrawal symptoms after the person stops their drug use.
Besides knowing what addiction is it’s also important to know what causes it. Experts don’t know the exact causes of drug addiction. However, they believe psychological as well as environmental factors have a major part. It seems several factors result in anyone becoming addicted to drugs.
There are cases when a drug addict didn’t know that certain drugs are addictive. It is common when people are prescribed drugs like painkillers. Factors like severe physical pain and ignorance of the drug’s addiction results in the person getting hooked on the drug.
Psychological Causes of Drug Addiction
Experts believe psychological factors make up much of the main causes of drug addiction. It seems some of the causes result from trauma when the drug addict is young. Problems in the home like chaos can trigger psychological stress. People then try to treat themselves by using drugs in an attempt to reduce the pain of the stress. This “self-medication” becomes one of the causes of drug addiction.
There are several other causes of the psychological effects of drug addiction:
- Lack of friends
- Mental illness like depression
- Bad performance work/school
- Poor stress-coping skills
- Unable to connect with people
Environmental Causes of Drug Addiction
The environment of a person can be a key factor in what results in drug addiction. For example, it’s more common in environments where drug abuse is seen or allowed. It’s common for kids who grow up in homes containing drug addicts to become addicts later.
The majority of drug use begins in adolescence, and people with inattentive or neglectful parents are much more likely to abuse drugs. A common cause of drug addiction is drug experimentation and limited oversight by parents. Other environmental factors can result in drug addiction including:
- Peer group that uses/promotes using drugs
- People in a lower socio-economic status
- Gender/ethnicity (some drugs)
- Playing sports that include performance-enhancing drugs
Genetic causes of Drug Addiction
Drug addiction runs in families, which shows that genetics might partially cause drug addiction. Studies of twins seem to show that 50% of someone’s risk of drug addiction is genetic. Gene-related causes of addiction to drugs seems to involve several gene sequences. Scientists haven’t been able to determine all of the ones involved. Still, they’ve learned that certain genes such as those related to brain receptors linked to nicotine affect the chance of drug addiction.
How Drug Addiction Affects the Brain
Drug addiction can have major effects on the brain, so it’s important to know what’s happening. Addiction is a complex disorder that involves compulsive drug use. Different types of drugs cause different physical effects. However, repeated use of all drugs can change the way the brain functions. Here are some important issues:
Regardless of what drug is involved an addiction to it results in cravings. In fact, the cravings become more important than everything else including relatives, friends, and career. It can even affect more personal issues like the addict’s health and well-being.
When a person becomes addicted to drugs, the substances become as important as survival behaviors like eating and drinking. As the term suggests, these are activities that are required for a person to survive. Recreational drugs obviously aren’t required for survival, but they trick the brain into thinking that.
The urge resulted from drug addiction can also cause a person to deny/rationalize their addiction. A person might under-estimate things like how much of the drug they’re taking, how much it’s affecting their lives, and how much they have over the drug use. These are major issues because they create a false perception of the drug use.
Drugs affect things like thinking, judgment, and behavior. It also prevents a person from feeling normal unless they take drugs. As a result, the substances have a major effect on people’s day-to-day lives and their ability to function normally.
When using recreational drugs, it causes the hormone dopamine to rush to the brain. This neurotransmitter helps the brain to control reward/pleasure centers. It helps to regulate emotional responses and helps people take action to move towards different rewards. It results in a feeling of pleasure. The brain recalls these feelings and has urged that they’ll be repeated in the future.
What Is Drug Abuse?
Today drug abuse is also referred to drug use order, substance use, and chemical use disorder. It’s, in fact, an illness that’s a destructive behavioral pattern. It involves using a substance that causes major problems/distress. They include tolerance/withdrawal from the substance and other issues caused by using the substance. It can result in negative effects on the person’s school/work performance or social life.
Drug abuse has a big effect on society. For example, the total costs are estimated at around $215 billion and include lost wages, medical, mental-health and legal issues. Another issue is the growing of marijuana and making of synthetic drugs like meth have a negative effect on soil/water supplies. Broken drug laws also result in the most arrests in the US at 14 million (2008).
Drug abuse is becoming more common among teenagers and especially with prescription drugs. It mostly involves narcotics that are prescribed as painkillers and stimulants that treat conditions like attention deficit disorder (ADD).
“Dual diagnosis” is a term that refers to drug abuse and mental health issues existing simultaneously in a person. Substance abuse is very common in people who have major mental illnesses. In fiction, people with dual diagnoses are also much more likely to be non-compliant in getting the treatment they need.
Causes of Drug Abuse
Drug abuse happens when a person’s use of prescription drugs becomes uncontrollable, or they’re using another legal/illegal substance to an extent it affects their ability to function normally. The US National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2011 over 40,000 people died in the US due to the drug overdose. Every year over 22,000 people dies from the abuse of prescription drugs.
Drug abuse can lead to other public health issues like family stress, drunk driving, and violence. There are many biological and social issues related to drug abuse. However, treatment is available, and the most effective way to deal with the situation is prevention/education.
Difference between Drug Addiction/Abuse
It’s common for people to interchangeably use the terms drug “abuse” and “addiction” but there are different meaning between the two terms. It’s possible for a person to abuse drugs and not be addicted to them. What’s the difference? Drug abuse centers on the way a person uses various drugs while drug action includes both the use of the drugs as well as the substances’ psychological/physiological effects on the human body.
Drug abuse is a strong desire to get, use, and increase the use of 1+ substances. This term often refers to the abuse of drugs like alcohol and cigarettes. Meanwhile, drug addiction is a person’s inability to stop using a drug even though they’ve tried several times. While alcohol is legal, it was also a drug and included in the formal definitions of drug abuse and drug addiction.
Finally, it’s critical to point out that while the definitions of these two terms are different, both of them are very dangerous. If you or a person you know is dealing with drug abuse/addiction, it’s important to learn about various rehab/detox programs to have the best chance to recover fully.
Rehabilitation is used to help a person recover fully from their addictions, and can also involve recovering from injuries and physical/mental illnesses. Drug rehab programs are typically the most common kinds of rehab available. The reason is people who are addicted to drugs need extra care and help that’s offered through drug rehabilitation.
The process involves helping drug addicts to enter society again. Drug abuse involving legal/illegal drugs can affect all aspects of a person’s life. That includes work, school, relationships, and so on. The goal of drug rehab is to help people get their old lives back healthily and safely.
Several kinds of drug rehabilitation facilities are available for people who want to use them. There are some that specialize in helping patients who have a specific kind of drug addiction. Meanwhile, others offer a wider range of services to treat drug addiction. You can also find some facilities that are specific to a particular gender or age group.
There are also inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities to pick. When people think about drug rehab, they often have the belief that people are required to stay there. In fact, the patients can leave the facility whenever they want to. The reason is the rehab will be more effective when people are there because they want to be there and get the treatment they need. These facilities can still be effective when people are required to go there due to a court order yet are hesitant at first.
The types of rehab centers that are available differ. Some are very basic facilities while others are luxurious. The kind of center a patient picks is based on issues like their budget and insurance. It’s important to keep in mind that the rule “You get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply. There are luxury treatment centers that don’t necessarily provide better care than basic ones.
Before starting their rehab program patients are usually required to complete detox treatment. It involves getting all the addictive chemicals in the person’s body. The process takes about one week and is monitored by medical professionals. After the patient completes their detoxification, they’re prepared for the rehab process.
One of the main goals of drug rehab is to alter the attitudes of the patients about drugs. For example, it’s quite common for drug addicts to deny that they have an addiction problem and might even argue that the drugs they’re abusing aren’t dangerous. The first goal of the rehab is to change the patient’s attitude and end their denial. It will put them in the right mindset to start making changes to their life.