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Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a serious epidemic worldwide, with new and even more dangerous drug threats emerging in recent years making the problem even worse. Aside from the well-known illicit drug threats which have existed for decades such as heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, individuals who abuse drugs are now privy to illicitly diverted prescription narcotics and depressants, designer stimulants, hallucinogenics and other synthetic drugs which are just as, if not more, dangerous when abused than common illicit street drugs. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, rates of drug addiction are higher than ever resulting in many social, health, and economic consequences for the users and society at large.

The Cycle of Drug Addiction

The cycle of drug addiction goes as follows; an individual may try a drug recreationally in a social setting to experience some type of a release or high, or may use a drug to self medicate because of something going on in their lives that they want a temporary escape from. These days, the types of drugs used in these circumstances can range from a well-known street drug such as marijuana to a prescription sedative that is often illicitly diverted and abused. Drugs affect the reward centers of the brain and central nervous system, which regulate pleasure, pain and other important mood related functions. So when someone takes a drug, there is a flood of feel good chemicals at a level which cannot be replicated without the use of drugs. These chemicals are already present in the body at any given time without drugs, and elevated levels of these neuro-chemicals can be caused by something as simple as eating chocolate. Eating chocolate however creates nowhere near the intense rush that drugs create, but is just an example of the reward system in the brain works. So this is why taking drugs is a particularly pleasurable sensation and experience.

The Rebound Effect

However, an individual who takes drugs continuously to experience these affects can be so accustomed to them that their body stops making its own feel good chemicals. This happens because there is such an abundance of them the body has no reason to produce its own. So if an individual stops taking their drug of choice after even short-term use, the body's natural mood, pain and pleasure centers are shut down and the individual experiences ill effects instead of the pleasurable effects the drugs created. The body needs time to reboot and readapt to normal function without drugs, and this doesn't happen instantaneously. As a result, the individual will feel pain, depression and others symptoms as a response to not taking their drug of choice. These symptoms will often subside once the body's own natural reward system kicks in, but this can take days and weeks in some cases. Some individuals never return to normal function because of damage that has occurred in the brain and central nervous system due to drug use, and may be depressed chronically as a result of their drug use.

Withdrawal Symptoms

In response to these undesirable physical and psychological symptoms as a result of cessation of drug use, known as withdrawal symptoms, individuals will typically fall back into use of drugs to ease cravings and symptoms. This is the endless cycle of drug addiction for so many who go through this 5, ten, twenty times in their lives and some even wind up losing their lives due to drug addiction. It isn't often the case that an individual doesn't want to quit abusing drugs, but the thought of doing so is too overwhelming and many will lose hope that there will ever be an end to their drug addiction. It isn't that they are a bad person, but there is little hope to quit on one's own and without a support system and actual treatment for drug addiction.

Drug Addiction Recovery

So for individuals who do want to quit, or for family and friends who want to help someone caught up in drug addiction, the best solution is not to attempt to do so on one's own but to get professional help and treatment. Drug addiction often requires an extensive amount of treatment, not some group meeting here and there. So individuals and their loved ones should not be disillusioned or tricked into thinking there is some quick one-size-fits-all cure. The best option available is a residential or in-patient drug rehab program that can help individuals get through the sometimes rough and uncomfortable withdrawal period, and then follow up with extensive treatment. Treatment can take several months in some cases, where treatment professionals can dig into and help individuals resolve how and why they started abusing drugs in the first place.

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