Drug Abuse Help
Drug Abuse Help -- What is Drug Abuse/Addiction?
Drug abuse/addiction is a chronic disease affecting the brain, and just about everyone is different. Drugs affect different people in different ways. One person can take and abuse drugs, yet never become addicted, while another merely has one experience and is immediately hooked. Drug abuse/addiction is characterized by a person having to use the drug(s) repeatedly, regardless of the damage it does to:
- Their family
- Their career
- Their relationships with friends and the community
Addiction is not limited to drugs and alcohol. A person can be addicted to many things, such as food, gambling, shopping, or most anything that gets in the way of a healthy lifestyle. When things get out of hand, and people behave compulsively, regardless of the consequences.
When the person is no longer in charge of their life, regardless of the triggering mechanism, they are addicted. The addiction can take over a person’s entire life. Nothing else matters.
The first question many people have is simply “Is there a cure?” The answer is, sadly, no, once you HAVE to use a drug you will always be addicted to it. There is currently no pill you can take to remove your cocaine addiction or your need to abuse alcohol. In order to get a more complete understanding of why there is no cure, you first have to take a deeper look at addiction to learn how to live with it.
What's the difference between Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction?
The next quest tion generally ask is how can I tell drug abuse from drug addiction. That's a little more complicated:
Drug Abuse Help: Drug addiction is a disease of the mind body and SPIRIT
Let’s establish one important point of understanding abuse/addiction. We are body, mind and spirit, and because of that, drug addiction is as much a disease of the spirit as it is of the body and mind. Unlike other chronic diseases, like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, the spiritual component of drug addiction will play a major role in a person’s recovery.
Drug Abuse Help: What is Drug Addiction verses Drug Abuse?
There is a difference between drug abuse or addiction. The difference is not that great, but it’s important to understand when a person goes from abusing drugs to being addicted to drugs.
Drug Abuse Help: What is drug abuse?
The easiest way of defining drug abuse is observing that a person uses a drug for something other than a medically prescribed purpose. That is, they have a habit of taking a drug to “get high” or “feel better.” They take more than prescribed amounts. They take the drugs for recreation.
Some “drugs” that are used for recreation may not be prescription meds, or over-the-counter medications, or even street drugs. They can be common, everyday chemicals. For example, people inhale glue or solvents to get high. People want to have a mood change, to feel good.
Professional drug counselors will tell you that any use of illegal drugs is drug abuse. Those drugs are illegal because they are potentially very addictive and harmful to a person’s health. That broadens our definition of drug abuse even more. Therefore, any illegal drug use, or any use of prescription or non-prescription medication use beyond what is prescribed by a medical professional, or any use of a chemical to get high, is drug abuse.
There are some drugs that are used to relax, to feel good, to be sociable. Alcohol is the most common drug used in America for this purpose. It’s legal, and if taken in moderation, is not harmful. But alcohol is addictive. Some people say marijuana is not addictive, and therefore should be legal, but researchers have found that marijuana has other harmful effects, even if someone is not “addicted.” People can become psychologically addicted, even if there is no physical dependence.
Almost any substance can be abused and abuse or addiction are possible. Cigarettes, caffeine and other common, legal substances are abused by people every day. Sometimes the line between use and abuse is fuzzy.
For example, people might go to the tavern after work and have a couple of drinks with their friends. Is that abuse? Some might argue that it becomes abuse when it becomes a regular, daily occurrence. Too many cigarettes, too much coffee, to many diet sodas. The line is determined by the person and whether the use progresses over time.
Drug Abuse Help: What is drug addiction?
We will now try to determine when drug abuse becomes addiction. When a person is abusing a drug they are making a choice. They choose to get high. When a person goes into addiction, their choice in the matter is either severely limited or taken away entirely.
The 12-Step process begins with a very important statement, “We admitted we were powerless…”
You can insert the drug that is doing the damage. When the drug takes over, when a person’s life is all about getting the drug and taking the drug, when nothing but the drug matters, that is addiction. A person might develop a physical “need” for the drug, or a psychological craving for the drug. The first step in the 12-Step process ends with:
“that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Drug Abuse Help: Powerless and unmanageable
What is drug addiction and alcoholism? Being powerless and unmanageable are the hallmarks of addiction and alcoholism. When brain chemistry changes, the mind is tricked into thinking it NEEDS the drug to function.
A physical addiction sets in and the person must have the drug. Just like the body needs food to survive, the addicted mind needs the drug to survive. It doesn’t matter if the person is dying, it doesn’t matter if their health has deteriorated and even if their life has been ruined. All that matters is the drug.
The addicted person might even holler and scream that they are in control, that they can “handle it,” or that every other person who is watching is wrong and only they are right. Sadly, addiction is easier to see from the outside looking in.
There are medical explanations of addiction/abuse, but suffice it to say that addiction owns the addict. From the perspective of the addicted person, they have to take the drug to feel “normal” or to feel “good.” There is no choice. People do things they normally would never think of doing. They steal money. They become prostitutes. They break off relationships, even the ones with those they love the most. Why? Because the drug is dictating their life.
What is drug addiction? It's loss of control.
Drug Abuse Help: So now what?
Whether a person is struggling with abuse or addiction to drugs, it’s a problem. It is not a problem that a mere “I’ll cut back,” or “I can handle it” is going to solve. Abuse or addiction are both serious problems.
Perhaps a person can recognize that their drug use is really abuse and they will stop on their own. God bless them. But most people can’t. They need professional help. They can talk to their doctor and maybe get a recommendation on a treatment program. There are social service agencies that deal help deal with drug abuse or addiction.
There are treatment centers. There is AA, Alcoholics Anonymous. Recovery from abuse and addiction is vitally important. Seek professional help and guidance. Drug abuse and/or addiction are both very serious problems that should be dealt with as soon as possible because the situation is only likely to get much worse.
There are several factors and causes to consider. First there is a genetic component, that is, what is passed on to you through your family.
- If your blood relatives had a predisposition to become addicted, chances are you have that same tendency.
- Personality contributes to drug addiction.
- Peer pressure is huge, both for teenagers and adults alike.
Drug addiction occurs when the pathways in the brain, the brain’s communication system, are altered by repeated use of a substance. Some of the brain’s nerve cells, called neurons, use chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are released into the gaps, called synapses, between nerve cells.
Take it to an extreme. There is normal brain chemistry activity, but when that activity is affected by the drug, the internal communication is altered, creating an otherwise abnormal affect.
If you were to abuse the pain medication by going way over the prescribed limit and frequency, because you need that drug, you are becoming addicted.
Drug Abuse Help: Addiction is a chronic condition, making the chances for relapse great. The drug takes over and the person loses control and will do anything to get the drug, regardless of the consequences.
What might have started as a decision to use the drug for a proper, medical purpose now becomes a spiraling, out-of-control experience for the user. Otherwise intelligent, rational people lose their ability to make good decisions.
The drug has taken over.
Drug Abuse Help: Drug Addiction causes permanent changes in brain chemistry
Because of the change in the brain’s chemistry and function, it’s very difficult for people who are addicted and or abusing to stop using; that's what is so difficult drug/alcohol use.
Treatment centers around the country have found that a combination of medications, along with behavioral therapy is the most effective way of helping the patient manage the disease.
Treatment centers will tailor-made a program to meet the needs of patients seeking help. We are body, mind and spirit. Medicine can effectively treat the body and the mind, but medicine alone does not treat the spirit.
Are there going to be setbacks? Yes. Human beings make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean a person can’t get back on course.
No. Understand that drug abuse and addiction are not the same, because not all people who take drugs become addicted. The most commonly used drug is alcohol and Alcohol, like most other drug addictions, progresses in stages, as a person descends into drug or alcohol dependence, hits bottom, then ascends back up to good health. It’s a process.
Not everybody that uses drugs/alcohol is on the path to becoming an addict. Some people can abuse drugs, but not become addicted, while others try drugs or alcohol once and are immediately hooked.
Alcoholics often mention the “click,” that experience of satisfaction when taking the first drink. Drug users experience a “high” or a kind of euphoria. In either case, they want to feel good, and the drugs make them feel good. But it gets out of hand.
What are the signs of drug abuse or drug addiction?
The symptoms vary. Perhaps it’s just trying something with friends at a party, or maybe a person hurts and they want to numb the pain.
It can start most any way, and some drugs are more addictive than others, but once the progression reaches the point where a person needs the drugs because of a physical dependence and compulsively works to get them, regardless of the impact on their friends and family, their job and their community, that person’s life is out of control.
Drug addition does not discriminate. It affects men and women of all ages; seniors, career-aged, young adults, teenagers and even children. The effects of drugs and Alcohol impact all of society.
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Yourself... Your Family... Your Friends... Your Community...
The rest of the pages are there for your reference to explain important topics in more detail.
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