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Article Summary

Drug Addiction And Treatment

In the guide below, you will learn everything there is to know about drug addiction and treatment. Designed to tackle an increasingly contentious issue, this guide will provide you with answers to the questions you've been asking, solutions to your problems, and a resolve for a better life.

A Word on Drug Abuse Treatment Plans

The right drug addiction treatment plans will help any addict detoxify and find respite from addiction. Offered in safe environments and using time-tested methods, these plans will go a long way in guiding the addict through all stages towards recovery.

In 2009, the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) released a report stating that an estimated 23.5 million people older than 12 years required treatment for drug addiction and abuse.

With such staggering numbers, it is clear why there is such a dire need for all addicts to seek help as soon as possible. In this, there are a number of treatment and detoxification options available - both in-patient and out-patient.

Further, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (abbreviated NIDA) emphasizes on the importance of treatment plans that are tailored to meet the unique needs of the individual. By this statement, the Institute reinforces the commonly-held belief that there is no single universal treatment plan because every drug addiction case is unique.

Introduction to Drug Addiction

Addiction definition People who are addicted to drugs and other substances typically have no control over what they use, take, or do. At some point, this addiction becomes harmful both to the addict and to those around him/her.

Some time back, addiction was only used to refer to psychoactive substances with the ability to cross through the blood to brain barrier. Today, it is applied to anything that can temporarily or permanently alter the brain's chemical balance. As such, it encompasses drugs, tobacco, and alcohol.

Drug addicts often have a hard time controlling how they use substances. In fact, they often end up becoming completely enslaved to the drugs to such an extent that they can't cope with ordinary day to day life.

Sometimes termed as dependency, drug addiction usually leads to tolerance. When this happens, the addict needs more regular and larger amounts of the substance they are using/abusing so that they can feel the same effect. Further, the initial reward they used to feel disperses causing further addiction due to the need to curb withdrawal symptoms.

Diagnosing Drug Abuse and Addiction

The first step toward recovery from drug addiction and abuse involves diagnosing and evaluating the individual. However, there is more to diagnosis than simply determining certain physical manifestations of addiction. Rather, the medical professional involved will use a wide variety of behavioral and physical diagnostic criteria in their determination of the case.

These criteria include but are not limited to:

  • Compulsive substance use, even after recognizing harmful consequences
  • Inability to meet responsibilities at work, to friends, and to your family
  • Inability to stop using/abusing drugs
  • Tolerance to the drug's effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped

Of course, you don't have to meet the criteria points above to be termed an addict. In fact, some drugs are unique in the sense that they do not carry noticeable withdrawal symptoms or physical tolerance.

That said, some addicts do experience a compulsive urge to use certain substances which causes them to feel the usual effects of drug addiction. However, they are still able to live up to social and work obligations.

Causes of Drug Addiction

Addicted girlMedical professionals studying and dealing with drug abuse and addiction have shown links between repeated use of addictive drugs and the waves of pleasure in the human brain. Repeated use, to this end, is usually accompanied by pleasant rewards. This leads to more frequent use down the line. Whether it is alcohol, some drug, or nicotine, the addictive substance causes actual physical changes in the brain's nerve cells (neurons).

In most cases, drug use starts casually and harmlessly. This is because no one starts using drugs simply because they wish to get addicted. For a while, the drugs bring a feeling of elation. For instance, when you start smoking cigarettes, you might feel powerful, self-confident, and energetic. Others get into drugs possibly because of a deep-seated need to reduce anxiety or stress - or even to forget problems in life.

However, the use of anything addictive will change how your brain works. Continued use eventually causes you to develop strong cravings for what you are abusing. As a direct result, you can become addicted even though that was not your intention.

With time, you might even start losing interest in people, things, and activities you used to enjoy. This mostly happens when you feel like they are not quite as enjoyable as the drugs and substances you've been abusing. This leads you further down the rabbit hole of addiction.

Signs of Drug Addiction

So, how can you tell that you are addicted? Are there signs that point towards definite drug addiction? Before you understand drug abuse and treatment, you need to be able to spot the following common signs of addiction:

  • An increase in appetite
  • Denial
  • Dependence on the drug for everyday functioning
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Excessive consumption
  • Failure to stop using the drug even after trying
  • Inability to kick the habit
  • Insomnia
  • Maintenance of supplies of the drug
  • Obsession with the drug
  • Persistent coughing
  • Recreational and/or social sacrifices
  • Risky behavior (such as trading sex and stealing for drug money, or driving under the influence)
  • Solitude and secrecy
  • Sore throat
  • Using the drug to deal with personal problems
  • Violence, hallucinations, seizures, sweats, and trembling
  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as bad temper, depression, empty frustration, resentment, bitterness, anger, cravings, moodiness, poor focus, and more

Even so, not every alcohol, substance, and drug abuser is a technical addiction. However, the likelihood that you suffer from any of the signs listed above should go a long way in showing that you are addicted.

Effects of Drug Addiction

Taking pills Although the initial stages of addiction might seem pleasurable and fun, things will not be quite as smooth down the line. In fact, the complications associated with abuse and addictions are so dire that you might end up losing your life on account of drugs.

The effects of addiction, to this end, tend to cross over to potentially devastating medical, occupational, and social complications. This is why you should improve your understanding of drug abuse and treatment.

Consider the following effects of addiction:

  • Brain damage
  • Death
  • Failure to hold jobs down
  • Heart attack
  • Impaired health, educational, and social functioning
  • Increased risk of violence
  • Liver failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Sedative overdose
  • Stroke

Dangers of Addiction

Some of the common complications associated with drug addiction will affect your life in a number of ways. These are the most common dangers of addiction to drug abuse:

a) Poor Health
Addiction to nicotine, narcotics, and drugs carries health consequences. Addicts tend to develop physical health, emotional, and mental problems.

b) Overdose
When taken in excess, some drugs are likely to cause an overdose leading to unconsciousness, coma, or death.

c) Diseases
People who are addicted to intravenous drugs run the risk of contracting such communicable diseases as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. Further, drug abuse tends to lead to risky sexual behavior, which will put you at a precarious position where sexually transmitted diseases are concerned.

d) Injuries
Anyone with an addiction problem runs the risk of toppling or falling over, injuring themselves, and driving dangerously especially while under the influence.

e) Suicide
Addicts are highly likely to commit suicide in comparison to non-addicts.

f) Relationship Problems Marital, family, and social relationships are likely to be strained on account of drug use and abuse. Eventually, this might lead to family breakups, separation, divorce, and so on.

g) Child Abuse and Neglect
The overall percentage of abused or neglected children with parents (or one parent) who are addicted to drugs is comparatively high. These figures apply to alcohol and substance abuse.

h) Poverty
Continued addiction also raises the risk of unemployment, homelessness, and poverty. Addicts usually find themselves fired from their positions, evicted from their homes, and dependent on others for sustenance.

i) Legal Problems In those cases when the addict abuses expensive substances, they might resort to petty or serious crime to secure a supply. This increases the likelihood that they will run into problems with the law.

Types of Treatment for Drug Addiction

12-step addiction treatmentAs always, the best solution to drug addiction is to seek treatment. Failure to do so will only lead you down a slippery slope that might end in imprisonment, incapacity, poverty, or even death.

Through treatment, you can be helped in various stages. Eventually, your compulsive drug seeking and abuse/use will stop. This treatment will take different forms in various settings, and last for an unspecified amount of time.

Since addiction is chronic and relapses are common, you might need more than an one-time, short term treatment. In fact, the longer the treatment option, the easier it will be for you to kick the habit once and for all.

Some of the most common forms and modes of treatment for drug addiction, include:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Also abbreviated as CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy is quite effective for dealing with substance and drug abuse. This is according to the data released by the PCNA (Psychiatric Clinics of North America).

It will help the addict manage thought patterns - thereby controlling all negative thoughts that may increase cravings or lead to destructive behavior. Further, the patient is taught how to identify triggers and avoid them.

2. Motivational Enhancement Therapy

MET works when therapists help addicts tap into certain personal/professional motivations. These motivations help them to resist abuse. An Advances in Psychiatric Treatment study showed that patients who participated in motivational enhancement therapy experienced highly reduced rates of substance abuse, even fewer arrests, and improved compliance with provided treatments.

3. Family Therapy

Recovering addicts often undergo family therapy. This is because families form a core support system that the addict can fall back on once they leave the rehabilitation program.

4. Twelve-Step Programs

There are many twelve-step programs for treating drug addiction. These include, but are not limited to Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous. They work well to complement and extend the benefits provided by professional drug treatment programs.

For most people, however, such programs are not comprehensive enough to warrant a successful recovery. As such, you might need to combine the drug abuse service with other services to help you manage all aspects of your life. Such extra services could include:

  • Childcare services
  • Educational services
  • Family services
  • Financial services
  • HIV/AIDS services
  • Housing/transportation services
  • Legal services
  • Medical services
  • Mental health services
  • Vocational services

Benefits of Treatment for Drug Addiction

Happy addiction recoveryTreatment for drug addiction comes with numerous benefits, such as:

  • Accomplishments in other areas of your life
  • Better focus in life
  • Better social relations within families, with friends, and more
  • Faster recovery from addiction
  • Healing and reconciliation
  • Higher chances of professional and personal fulfillment
  • Improved goal setting and getting
  • Improved health and wellness
  • Increased ability to look on the bright side of life
  • Lower risk of sudden death, health complications, and more
  • Permanently kicking drug addiction
  • Reduced stress

Of course, all these benefits are relative to your degree of success. The harder you strive to accept that you are an addict, the easier it will be for you to seek treatment from a qualified center.

Although you might think that you can easily go the DIY (do it yourself) route, this has been shown to cause devastating effects. In fact, the withdrawal symptoms alone could increase the risk that you might even die as you try to solve your drug addiction.

Therefore, the best thing you can do is to enroll into the longest program available to you. Check into a facility and resolve to kick your habit. Although the process will be no easy walk in the park, the benefits you stand to gain once you graduate (and eventually stop your addiction) will far outweigh the problems you had to endure to free your life of drugs and abuse.


Over and above everything else, drug addiction and treatment should be taken as seriously as possible. As you endure through the various stages of treatment, remember what you are aiming for - to make a better example of your life both for your own fulfillment as well as for the pleasure of those who love and adore you. Take the step towards recovery today and live to witness amazing changes in your life.



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