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Drug addiction is a problem which permeates all levels of society, and just about anyone can get caught up in drug addiction when abusing recreational illicit drugs, prescription drugs or alcohol. Because drugs change brain chemistry and can take such a powerful hold on one's actions, occasional recreational use of drugs or alcohol can turn into a full blown addiction in no time. This isn't to say that individuals don't have control of their actions and drug use, as it is always a choice of the user, but drugs can take their toll physically and psychologically and it can seem almost impossible to quit.
Drug use can start out with casual use as many individuals give into peer pressure in social settings, and this can become an everyday occurrence. Many youth find themselves giving into to this type of peer pressure in school, but this happens to adults just as often. It is all too common for individuals to use drugs or alcohol to get their minds off of their problems or to free themselves of inhibitions and "have a good time" and party. Certain influences might enter their lives and persuade them to use drugs or alcohol. Some individuals who seek approval from others may abuse drugs and alcohol as a means to be popular or be accepted by a certain individuals or group of people. Drugs can seem like the perfect remedy to overcome shyness or fear, or to feel more comfortable in social situations.
However drug and alcohol abuse starts out, over time individuals will feel that they require these substances just to feel normal or to even be able to function in life. Different drugs affect an individual differently, each with their own effects and side effects. Most however affect the brain and central nervous system's reward center, and cause the individual to experience euphoria, calm, etc. that they intend to experience with these substances. This response is typical of anything one does that is rewarding, not just drug use. Your body tells you you've been rewarded when you do some type of activity you enjoy, or eat your favorite food. Chemicals called neurotransmitters are released which tell you that that activity or substance was enjoyable, let's do it again real soon. With drugs however, this brain and central nervous system activity is much more profound and intense, and well above levels you can naturally replicate. This is why drugs are so addictive and why individuals get caught up in the cycle of drug addiction.
Drug addiction occurs because the individual becomes acclimated to daily existence in these unnatural states of euphoria or pleasure. If they stop using their drug or drugs of choice, they are duly punished physically and sometimes psychologically as their body and minds tell them to get more drugs. Individuals become dependent on drugs to the point where they need them every day and will do just about anything to obtain their drug of choice. If they take the drug over an extended period of time, they will need higher and higher doses more often to get the high they wish to achieve. This is called tolerance. Dependence and tolerance are keystone manifestations of drug addiction, and the cause of drug seeking behavior and its consequences. If they don't seek out more drugs and use them, they will endure what is known as drug withdrawal which comes with a myriad of symptoms depending on which drugs or drugs are being abused.
Drug withdrawal symptoms as a result of drug addiction can vary depending on the drug that is being abused. While most withdrawal symptoms won't kill you, they can be difficult to endure and can be quite punishing. For example, heroin and opiate withdrawal is particularly gruesome and can seem like a bad flu but only much worse and much more prolonged. Most drug withdrawal symptoms are physically punishing but some symptoms like depression and anxiety can also be part of the withdrawal process. Most drug withdrawal symptoms can be overcome within a matter of days, but to a hardcore addict these few days will seem like an eternity and the end of the world. Additionally, individuals will intensely crave whichever drug they are withdrawing from. If they give in and use their drug of choice, all symptoms can be alleviated and they will be caught up in the cycle of addiction once again.
Drug addiction today is a problem which covers a broad spectrum of issues, as there are new drug problems at the forefront in today's culture. Individuals caught up in drug addiction today are not just street drug users. Prescription drug abuse is one of the biggest addiction issues that the world is faced with due to the ease in which individuals can acquire these powerfully addictive drugs, and how acceptable it is to abuse them. Many drug users find it much easier to acquire a prescription opiate for example, than to get heroin off the street. Same effect, but much easier to obtain and abuse. Individuals don't have to be hardcore drug addicts to become addicted to prescription drugs, and it can even happen in the case of legitimate use. Tolerance and dependence are just as likely to occur with legitimate use of prescription drugs as with illicit street drugs, so no one is immune.
Because of all of the internal battles that are going on when someone is addicted to drugs, it is sad that addicted individuals will do just about anything to experience the pleasant feelings that they get from using drugs, despite the negative consequences. It can get so bad, that individuals will sell their bodies and commit violent crimes to fund their habit. Things which may have been important to them or things which they may have shown interest in will no longer be important.
Family and loved ones must remember that drug addiction does have a cure, it isn't a lifelong sentence. Many drug rehab programs offer effective solutions to drug addiction, and your loved one can get the help they need as soon as they are willing to reach out for it. Drug rehab programs will help them through the initial withdrawal and cravings and get them on the road to learning about themselves and others so that they can become fully rehabilitated and back into the game of life.
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