Drug addiction is a brain disease that makes it very difficult to stop taking drugs, even if someone wishes to. The first step to drug addiction treatment is seeing the possibility of help.
What Is Drug Abuse and Addiction?
Addiction to drugs is also known as substance use disorder (SUD). Substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine are also considered drugs. When someone becomes addicted, they cannot stop their addictive behaviors even if they want to stop. Drug abuse usually starts recreationally in social situations and progressively becomes more frequent. Others may start misusing drugs when they are prescribed needed pain medication, such as opioids, and then begin to seek pain-relieving drugs illegally when their prescription runs out.
Commonly Abused Drugs
Each drug carries its own risk for addiction, and the time it takes to become addicted will also vary. Opioids, for example, have a higher risk for abuse and other substances.
Generally, the most frequently abused substances include:
- MDMA (ecstasy/molly)
- LSD (D-lysergic acid diethylamide)
- Peyote (mescaline)
- PCP (phencyclidine)
- Benzodiazepines ( like Xanax)
Effects of Drug Addiction on The Brain
Over time, individuals misusing drugs will need larger and larger doses to achieve the same pleasant effects their initial amount once gave them. As the dose increases, most people will notice that it becomes increasingly difficult to go without the drug. When they attempt to stop using, they’ll experience intense cravings that may make them physically sick. This is what’s known as withdrawal.
Symptoms of a Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
The exact physical symptoms someone experiences will depend on the drug. But some general signs span the many drug classes.
- Feeling the need to use the drug regularly
- Needing more of the drug to feel ‘normal’
- Making sure you always have a supply
- Spending money on the drug even if you can’t afford it
- No longer meeting work, school, or family obligations
- Continuing to use the drug despite the trouble it’s causing
- Failing at your attempts to quit
- Experiencing withdrawal when you try to stop
If you suspect someone you love is struggling with drug abuse, they may exhibit the following:
- Physical health issues – little motivation or energy, weight loss or gain, or bloodshot eyes
- No longer caring about their personal appearance – No longer grooming or caring for themselves or their clothes
- Problems at school or work – frequently absent, suddenly disinterested, a significant drop in grades or performance
- Behavior changes – Calls for privacy, teenagers barring parents from their room, increased secrecy, and changes in friends
Drug Addiction Treatment Options
Drug rehab centers can provide various levels of care depending on the condition. For those with more intense substance abuse, they may be recommended to a partial-hospitalization program (PHP) or residential/inpatient treatment.
Residential/inpatient programs are designed so that someone going through treatment lives at the treatment facility. Partial-hospitalization programs or PHPs offer a similar amount of treatment (a full day, 5 days a week) but differ in that patients can return home at night or to a supportive, sober living environment. Both types of treatment have advantages and they represent the higher intensity end of the spectrum.
Outpatient programs are also available at different intensity levels, such as intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and standard outpatient programs (OP). Patients may attend these after completing an inpatient or PHP program or they may start at one of these less intensive levels if their need is not as acute.
Drug Addiction Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Who’s most likely to become addicted to drugs?
A: Anyone can develop an SUD. Factors contributing to increased risk for addiction include genetics, family history of substance abuse, the environment, and the age at which someone is introduced to a substance.
Q: Is it possible to prevent drug addiction?
A: Preventing drug addiction is all about educating yourself and your loved ones. Knowing the addictiveness of common drugs so you can stay clear of them is a vital step.
Q: How common is drug addiction?
A: Studies indicate that one-in-nine Americans use drugs recreationally.
Q: How is SUD diagnosed?
A: A drug addiction diagnosis starts with an assessment. Your healthcare provider will complete an exam and recommend individualized treatment for your situation.
Q: Is there a cure for drug addiction?
A: Sadly, there is no cure for addiction. It is a lifelong disease. However, proper treatment and care management make it possible to enjoy life again.
Find Drug Addiction Treatment Near You
There are a lot of options out there for drug addiction treatment. If you’ve tried drug rehab before and continue to misuse drugs, know that it’s not because treatment didn’t work. It simply means you didn’t receive enough treatment in the first place.
Contact our team at Southeast Addiction Center for your free substance abuse assessment and treatment referral today. Our helpline is open 24/7.
Cleveland Clinic – Drug Addiction
Mayo Clinic – Drug addiction (substance use disorder)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts