About Drug Addiction Information and Treatment Resources
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About Drug Addiction

About Drug AddictionLearning about drug addiction will help you and those you love realize that there is a drug addiction problem and what can be done to stop using. Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted, but drug abuse can cause problems for individuals whether they are technically addicted or not. There are different levels of drug abuse, and all of them can be dangerous.

  • About Drug Abuse Disorder: Using drugs or other substances becomes abusive and categorized as a "disorder" when the use begins to cause continuing or growing problems in the user's life. These problems include missing work or school, driving under the influence, legal problems, and problems with friends or family relationships.
  • About Drug Dependency: Dependency usually becomes noticeable in drug abusers when they continue their pattern of drug use in spite of incurring significant problems in their lives. Some signs of chemical dependency include spending more time on drug-seeking behavior, withdrawing from society and activities, an increased tolerance to the substance, unsuccessful attempts to quit, withdrawal symptoms during abstinence or reduced intake, and continuing use in spite of negative consequences.
  • About Drug Addiction: Addiction can best be described as a compulsive continued use of a drug or substance and a complete inability to stop. An addict is a person who is controlled by a drug or substance. To be able to determine if somebody is addicted, the person must meet certain conditions that have been determined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), amongst others. The following are conditions about drug addiction; you only have to comply with a few to be considered addicted:
    • Continue to use even if you know it is damaging for you.
    • Damaging effects to the addict and those around them due to drug abuse (problems at work or school, arguments with people around the person, illnesses, dedicate less time to hobbies).
    • Failed attempts to control one’s use or the behavior.
    • Psychological dependence (desire, varying from very little to very severe).
    • Spend a great deal of time using and/or recovering from using.
    • Tolerance (need more to still feel the effects).
    • Use more frequently and in higher doses than planned.
    • Use the substance or carry out certain behavior to reduce the withdrawal symptoms.
    • Withdrawal symptoms (get all kinds of physical reactions after you stop).

One key point about drug addiction, no one knows how many times a person can use a drug without changing his or her brain and becoming addicted. A person's genetic makeup probably plays a role. But after enough doses, an individual's limbic system craves the drug as it craves food, water, or friends. Drug craving is made worse because of down regulation.

Without a dose of the drug, dopamine levels in the drug abuser's brain are low. They feel flat, lifeless, depressed. Without drugs, an addict’s life seems joyless. Now they need drugs just to bring dopamine levels up to normal levels. Larger amounts of the drug are needed to create a dopamine flood or high, an effect known as tolerance.

By abusing drugs, the person has changed the way his or her brain works. An important fact about drug addiction is that it leads to long-term changes in the brain. These changes cause addicted drug users to lose the ability to control their drug use making drug addiction a serious problem. When researching about drug addiction, adolescents are more vulnerable than any other age group to developing drug addictions. This is because the regions of the brain that govern impulse and motivation are not yet fully formed, Yale researchers have found. After conducting an analysis of more than 140 research studies from across the basic and clinical neurosciences, including many conducted at Yale, the researchers concluded that substance use disorders in fact constitute neurodevelopmental disorders.

"Particular sets of brain circuits involved in the development of addictions are the same ones that are rapidly undergoing change during adolescence," said Andrew Chambers, M.D. "Normally these processes cause adolescents to be more driven than children or adults to have new experiences. But these conditions also reflect a less mature neurological system of inhibition, which leads to impulsive actions and risky behaviors, including experimentation and abuse of addictive drugs."

One thing we know for certain about drug addiction is that it is a treatable problem from which addicts can recover. Drug addiction treatment is a program of behavior change or modification that slowly retrains the brain.

About Drug Addiction Information and Treatment Resources
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