Addiction Guide

The state of being enslaved to something that is physically or psychologically habit-forming
Avoiding Relapse and staying away from addictive behavior is the goal. With proper treatment and support, a sober life and a bright future are absolutely possible.
Addiction Guide

A question that many have asked is why some people can drink wine everyday with dinner without an issue, while others form drinking problems. Science has made advances and is close to determining what makes one person more likely to develop an addiction than others.

A surprising fact is that addiction and substance abuse are two very different things. One can be a substance abuser without having a clinical addiction. There are certain criteria that needs to be met for an activity to qualify as substance abuse:

  • The person skirts their responsibilities to use a substance or fails to fulfill them because of it.
  • They continue to use the substance, unaware of the health problems and other issues it causes.
  • They become reckless under the influence or when they are trying to get the substance.

These symptoms are also found in drug addicts but substance abuse does not require an addiction. A medical health professional is likely to consider a patient an addict when three or more of the following appear to be happening:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug such as mood swings, dizziness and severe nausea or vomiting.
  • Having a tolerance for the drug or alcohol i.e. needing more and more of the drug to trigger the same physical response.
  • Not finding joy in activities they once loved.
  • Spending more time trying to obtain the drug, taking it or recovering from using it.
  • Losing self-control over how much of the drug they are consuming and not being able to stop.
  • Using the drug in spite of the negative health-related effects or the consequences to personal relationships or a job.

Addiction is more serious than drug abuse because the person is unable to quit. The brain has been altered to only function properly once the drug is in the system. Their tolerance to the substance builds until they are no longer satisfied with the same amount of the drug and need to up the dosage. This can quickly lead to an overdose especially with certain types of prescription medicines and hard drugs.

The Brain and Drug Abuse

Some drugs can be more addictive than others. With the help of science we can now scan the brain and see how certain activities affect the brain. It is evident from images of the brain that drugs become an addiction because they affect the neurons and how they behave. Often, drugs affect those parts of the brain that receive signals of pleasure.

What Happens to the Brain of a Drug Abuser?

Drug abuse alters a person’s judgement, memory, decision-making and how they perceive pleasure. Drug abuse can hinder the function of neurons and the person is only able to identify drugs as the source of pleasure. They begin indulging in risky behaviors and will do whatever it takes to get their hands on their drug of choice. As the drug begins to control the person they no longer find joy in the things they once loved. The brain only remembers the pleasure it experienced from the drug. The person is no longer able to behave as an upstanding citizen of society, a friend, romantic partner or family member.

Reasons Behind Addiction

There are brain processes that have been well documented and are shown to significantly contribute to how an addiction develops. Some people experience the changes addiction causes more severely and earlier than others. Science is still trying to figure out the reason for that and there is a hypothesis that there are certain biophysical factors that come into play.

What Causes an Addiction

The exact reason we develop an addiction is still largely unknown but there has been evidence that genetic and biophysical factors have something to do with it. A presence of mental illness also affects why some people become addicted while others do not. Another theory is that certain people from certain groups use drugs to treat their mental conditions such as depression or anxiety, while others use them to alleviate physical pain. One person might be more inclined towards an addiction than the other but anyone can get addicted if they abuse a substance long enough.

Common Addictions

Not all addictive substances are drugs, for example caffeine present in coffee and cocoa can be an addictive substance. Millions of people are addicted to non ingestible things like gambling, sex and similar risky behaviors.

  • Marijuana: It is the most common addiction and there is a general misconception that cannabis is not addictive. It is completely possible to form an addiction to marijuana.
  • K2/Spice: This is also known as synthetic marijuana which can be easily available at a much lower cost. It is a legal substance but many of the ingredients have been banned from commercial sale. Manufacturers can, however, adapt and change the recipe to use ingredients that are available to bring the product back to the market. Spice is often available at vape shops, smoke shops and convenience stores making it easy for young people to buy.
  • Painkillers: Opioids such as Percocet or morphine are one of the most abused and are very popular amongst patients suffering from chronic pain.
  • Stimulants: Prescription drugs like Ritalin are also addictive and they can get a person “high”
  • Sedatives: Xanax, Valium and Lunesta are some of the sedatives that are taken excessively because they send the user into a euphoria. They are also used in combination with other drugs to enhance effects.

There are other prescription and over the counter drugs, such as cough syrup, which can be abused by a person and cause addiction. They have a high enough alcoholic content and contain codeine, promethazine which can make a person not feel like themselves.

Get Some Help

They say the first step to getting rid of an addiction is to admit you have a problem and seek help. There is a myriad of treatment options, most effectively is a rehab center or program. If you check in to rehab, you can rest easy that you will get the help, supervision, support and personal bonds you need to help you recover.

When combined with counseling after your rehab treatment, you or someone you love can conquer the addiction and live a clean, sober life.

Take heart – there is hope.

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