Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
What is drug addiction commonly called in the mental health fields?
In the mental health field, drug addiction is commonly referred to as a "Substance Use Disorder" (SUD). This term is used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States.
A Substance Use Disorder is defined as a pattern of behaviors characterized by an inability to control or cut down on use, spending a lot of time obtaining the substance, craving the substance, failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use, and continuing to use the substance despite knowing it's causing physical or psychological harm.
Substance Use Disorders can be further categorized based on the specific substance involved, such as Alcohol Use Disorder, Opioid Use Disorder, Cannabis Use Disorder, and so forth. The severity of the disorder is also assessed (mild, moderate, or severe) based on the number of diagnostic criteria met by an individual.
It's worth noting that this terminology emphasizes the understanding of drug addiction as a medical disorder, rather than a moral failing or a matter of willpower. This shift in language is part of a larger effort to reduce stigma and promote a more compassionate, effective approach to treatment.
Where can I get help for my addiction to drugs with very little money?
If you're seeking help for your addiction to drugs and have limited financial resources, there are several options available to you. These organizations and services can provide support, counseling, and treatment at little to no cost:
- National Helplines: Our own helpline (1-877-882-9275) or the SAMHSA National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP) provides free, confidential, 24/7 assistance in English and Spanish.
- Local Support Groups: Many communities have support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery, that offer peer-to-peer support and resources for individuals struggling with addiction. These meetings are typically free and can be found in various locations.
- Non-profit and Faith-based Organizations: Some non-profit and faith-based organizations offer free or low-cost addiction treatment services, such as counseling, group therapy, and recovery programs. Contact local community centers, churches, mosques, or synagogues to inquire about available resources.
- Sliding Scale Treatment Centers: Some addiction treatment centers offer services on a sliding scale, meaning they adjust fees based on your income level. Contact local treatment centers and inquire about their financial assistance options.
- State-Funded Treatment Programs: Many states provide funding for addiction treatment programs that offer free or low-cost services to eligible residents. Contact your state's health department or substance abuse agency to learn more about available programs.
- Medicaid: If you are eligible for Medicaid, it may cover substance abuse treatment services, including detoxification, counseling, and medication-assisted therapy. Check with your state's Medicaid office for more information on covered services and eligibility requirements.
What are the effects of drug addiction on the brain?
Drug addiction significantly impacts the brain's structure and function. Here are the key effects:
- Alteration of Neurotransmitters: Drugs can excessively stimulate the brain's reward system by flooding it with dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This abnormal stimulation produces euphoria and motivates repeated drug use.
- Brain Reward System Disruption: Over time, continued use of drugs leads to changes in other brain circuits and systems. The overstimulation of the reward circuit causes the intensely pleasurable 'high' that leads people to take a drug again and again.
- Cognitive Functioning and Decision Making: Extended drug use can alter the brain's prefrontal cortex, the region responsible for decision-making, impulse control, judgment, and problem-solving, leading to poor decision-making and impulsivity.
- Memory and Learning: The hippocampus, vital for learning and memory, can also be affected, making it harder to learn and remember information.
- Stress Regulation: Chronic drug use can affect the brain's amygdala, leading to increased stress levels and difficulty in managing anxiety and stress, which can potentially contribute to the cycle of addiction.
- Physical Dependence and Withdrawal: Over time, the brain adapts to the drug, diminishing its sensitivity and making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug. When the drug is withdrawn, it leads to discomfort and withdrawal symptoms, as the brain readjusts to the absence of the drug.
- Neurotoxicity: Some drugs can cause neurons to die due to overactivation or neurotoxicity, causing lasting damage to brain regions.