Addiction and Substance Abuse

Drug Abuse 

Addiction or substance abuse is a condition that affects a person’s behavior and their brain, it can become a chronic situation that tampers with a person’s reward, motivation and memory functions of the brain. Persons who have an addiction problem, begin to strongly desire certain substances or certain behavioral characteristics which may for them be irresistible. This substance abuse situation makes a person to not be able to control the use of the particular substance even when the use of the substance is resulting in unfavorable conditions for the individual. Medically, it is referred to as the situation where an individual continues using a drug that causes notable problems in their lives and affects their daily activities. It is estimated that the use of opioids in the United states resulted in almost 50,000 deaths 

Addiction may not be limited to just taking in substances such as Alcohol, heroin, cocaine, opioids, nicotine etc. It also includes attachment to certain habits such as Gambling, eating and maybe working.

Engaging in addiction to substances first starts out as an activity that is done out of the will and intention of the individual however, with continued usage, it becomes increasingly difficult to get off the use of the substance and this is where addiction comes in. Some studies of the brain have shown that the use of drugs to a point of addiction can have an altering effect on the brain that affect certain areas of the individual’s life such as their ability to make certain decisions, their memories, behaviors, decision-making etc. these changes may also be considered as the reason why engaging in these addictive substances is usually an issue that is not easily undone for persons who are addicted. Certain factors may make a person more susceptible to addiction than others, these risk factors may include 

  • Aggressive behavior during childhood 
  • Little parental supervision during childhood 
  • Experimentation of drugs
  • Community influence 
  • Availability of drugs 
  • Biological factors 
  • Ethnicity 
  • The mode of intake 
  • Early use
  • Etc.

Misuse may not be the same as addiction, this situation may refer to the use of substances  at doses that are inadvisably high or in situations that are inappropriate, however drug misuse may lead to addiction. Substances that may frequently abused include:

  • Alcohols
  • Methamphetamine 
  • Opioids
  • Cocaine 
  • Inhalants 
  • Hallucinogens 
  • Pain killers
  • Anxiety pills 
  • Stimulants 

Other activities that may turn out to be addictive include:

  • Sex
  • Games
  • Gambling 
  • Work
  • Phones 
  • Internet connection 
  • Food, etc.

Symptoms of Addiction or Drug Abuse 

When a person becomes immersed in an addiction to drug activities, there are certain symptoms that may evidence that the situation has become one which is synonymous with an addiction. Such symptoms may be necessary to encourage such individuals in this case to seek the services of professionals. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Declining academic performances
  • Inability to perform optimally at work 
  • Difficulty in relationships with persons who point out the addiction. 
  • The inability to restrain from using the substance, or from engaging in the activity irrespective of the obvious adverse effects
  • Reduction in the energy of an individual when they engage in their daily activities 
  • Extreme change in appearances which may result in weight loss and less hygienic activity. 
  • Being defensive when confronted with issues concerning substance abuse. 
  • Using essential time to get, use and recover from drug use or alcohol. 
  • Engaging in high risk activities such as driving under influence. 
  • Having Withdrawal symptoms when there has been abstinence for a while. 
  • Paying less attention to responsibilities 
  • When an individual begins to display a high level of tolerance for the drug being abused 

Signs of Drugs that are commonly abused 

  • Marijuana: red glassy eyes, loud conversations, laughter or smiles that are uncalled for, extreme heaviness and sleepiness, loss of interest and motivation, excess weight loss or weight gain
  • Stimulants: euphoria, extreme activity, dilated pupils, frequent irritation, dry organs such as the mouth and nose, reduction in the desire for food, sleeping at odd hours, constant depression and mood swings.
  • Inhalants: Impaired vision, wet and watery eyes, impaired thought process, memory loss, rashes in the mouth and in the nose, nausea and headaches, intoxicating appearance, appetite fluctuation, constant irritation.
  • Hallucinogens: Dilated pupils, insensible, absurd and bizarre actions, including paranoia, hallucinations, and aggressiveness, mood fluctuations, lack of interest in people, absorption in self and other activities, confusion and slurred speech patterns.
  • Heroin: Contracted pupils, marks resembling needle insertions in the skin, absence of desire to eat, unusual sleeping patterns, constant sweating, coughing, vomiting etc. 

Treating Drug Abuse

There is no one size fits all treatment for drug abuse. There are many conditions that may necessitate specialized treatment but this is based on the doctor’s recommendations. They include:

  • The age of the individual 
  • The general health condition of the individual 
  • How long the individual has been addicted
  • How long the individual has been showing symptoms 
  • The type of drug being abused
  • The tolerance level of specific drugs, medical procedures and therapy

These treatments may be a recovery program and there are a number of them available which is dependent on the substance abused. Detoxification may also be required. Psychotherapy may also be used to ensure that the issues arising from substance abuse are handled properly. 

Certain Facts About Drug Abuse 

There are certain facts that should be noted concerning the use of drugs and its abuse and also its recovery. Below are some of them. 

  • To be able to overcome an addiction problem is not as simple as utilizing the willpower of the individual, this is because the brain has experienced some changes and as such, it hampers the ability to quit by the will of the individual alone. 
  • The fact that certain drugs are recommended and prescribed by doctors does not make them less addictive, use of these drugs for short periods may be beneficial, however, the use of these drugs for extended periods already becomes an avenue for addiction. 
  • The idea that once a person is addicted the case becomes hopeless is false, irrespective of the changes in the brain, once a person begins to undergo therapy, medication, and other forms of rehabilitation, it becomes highly possible for the brain changes to be reversed. 
  • A person also does not have to be at their lowest before they begin to seek treatment. At any point in time in the life of a person who is hooked on a substance or an activity, they may decide to effect a change. The truth remains that the longer they go on the substance, the harder it becomes to get out of it. 
  • In addition, a person may not willingly go for treatment of the abuse of this substance, they may be forced to, and yet the treatment can still be successful. They could be pressured to go for treatment either by their family members or their associates, or even by the law, and in the process, they may realize their need for rehabilitation. 
  • Drug recovery is a process that may sometimes be a long and tedious journey, and there may be relapses, however, the fact that the treatment that was initiated earlier didn’t work out should not become a reason why the individual should not endeavor to seek help again.