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Article Summary

Understanding Drug Addiction

The difference between substance abuse and drug addictions is very slight. Substance abuse means using an illegal substance or using a legal substance in the wrong way. Drug addictions begin as abuse, or using a substance like marijuana or cocaine. You can abuse a drug (or alcohol) without having an addiction. For example, just because a person smoked weed a few times doesn't mean that they have an addiction, but it does mean that they are abusing a drug . and that could lead to an addiction.

People can develop drug addictions to all sorts of substances. When we think of addiction, we usually think of alcohol or illegal drugs. But people become addicted to medications, cigarettes, even glue. And some substances are more addictive than others: Drugs like crack or heroin are so addictive that they might only be used once or twice before the user loses control. Drug addictions take place when the person has lost control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Someone who's addicted to cocaine has grown so used to the drug that he or she has to have it. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.

Are you struggling with drug addictions that have spiraled out of control? If so, you may feel isolated, helpless, or ashamed. Or perhaps you're worried about a friend or family member's drug use. In either case, you're not alone. Addiction is a problem that many people face.

Denial is an unconscious defense mechanism. Minimizing and rationalizing one's drug addictions are less scary than admitting that your drug use is dangerously out of control. But the cost of denial can be extremely high.including the loss of important relationships, your job, financial security, and your physical and mental health.

Are You Addicted To Drugs

  • Do you have a substance abuse problem?
  • Do you feel like you can.t stop, even if you wanted to?
  • Do you ever feel bad or guilty about your drug use?
  • Do you need to use drugs to relax or feel better?
  • Do your friends or family members complain or worry about your drug use?
  • Do you hide or lie about your drug use?
  • Have you ever done anything illegal in order to obtain drugs?
  • Do you spend money on drugs that you really can.t afford?
  • Do you ever use more than one recreational drug at a time?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the questions, you may have a drug problem. The good news is that you or your loved one can get better. There is hope.no matter how bad the substance abuse problem and no matter how powerless you feel. Learning about the nature of drug addictions.how it develops, what it looks like, and why it has such a powerful hold.will give you a better understanding of the problem and how to deal with it.

Myths about Drug Addictions and Substance Abuse

MYTH 1: Overcoming drug addictions is a simply a matter of willpower. You can stop using drugs if you really want to. Prolonged exposure to drugs alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit by sheer force of will.

MYTH 2: Addiction is a disease; there's nothing you can do about it. Most experts agree that addiction is a serious health issue, but that doesn.t mean you.re a helpless victim. The brain changes associated with addiction can be treated and reversed through therapy, medication, exercise, and other treatments.

MYTH 3: Addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can get better. Recovery can begin at any point in the drug addictions process and the earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat. Don't wait to intervene until the addict has lost it all.

MYTH 4: You can't force someone into treatment; they have to want help. Treatment doesn't have to be voluntary to be successful. People who are pressured into treatment by their family, employer, or the legal system are just as likely to benefit as those who choose to enter treatment on their own. As they sober up and their thinking clears, many formerly resistant addicts decide they want to change.

MYTH 5: Treatment didn't work before, so there's no point trying again; some cases are hopeless. Recovery from drug addiction is a long process that often involves setbacks. Drug addictions relapse doesn't mean that treatment has failed or that you're a lost cause. Rather, it's a signal to get back on track, either by going back to treatment or adjusting the treatment approach.

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