What is Drug Addiction?
Is drug addiction merely a weakness in a person’s character? The answer is no. Drug addiction is a complex disease that involves every aspect of a person’s physical, mental, and emotional life. Drug addiction like alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease that alters brain function and chemistry. This disease causes compulsive drug seeking behavior that leads to negative consequences in the life of the user and those connected to the user.
Just as diabetes must be managed, heart disease carefully monitored, and asthma closely watched, so too does drug addiction require monitoring. Evidence-based treatment for drug addiction works! Indeed, the relapse rate for substance abuse is the SAME as the relapse rate for people who suffer from these other chronic diseases.
Sometimes, a person is prescribed drugs to control pain. Other times, a friend or a relative may offer a prescription to help in a distressing physical or emotional moment. A person may succumb to peer pressure and take drugs to be part of the crowd. People use illicit drugs such as cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, or heroin. The legal status of a drug is irrelevant in the development of drug addiction. Both drugs prescribed by a physician or manufactured illegally are addictive.
How Does Drug Addiction Develop?
Science has provided patients with a range of potent drugs to manage pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and a host of other physical and emotional ailments. When taken as prescribed by a physician, these drugs will not become a problem. For example, the drug, Oxycontin or morphine enters the body and interferes with the messages sent from the brain to the organs and limbs. A feeling of calm may occur that is pleasurable. When the body has absorbed the drug, the brain chemistry will seek to return to normal levels. That process produces a reaction throughout the body. The more a drug is taken, the more intense the process of withdrawal will become. When a person continues to take a drug or combinations of drugs, the brain will seek to maintain those altered chemical levels. When that does not happen, the body responds with:
- Joint Pain
- Mood Changes
- Panic attacks
Diseases such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease are just a few of the health consequences of drug addiction. According to brain studies, drug-addicted individuals show “changes in the areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory and behavior control.” (drugabuse.gov) The need to give the body more drugs continues to grow as the addiction takes over. Compulsive drug seeking behavior without intervention becomes a way of life. The choice to use or not, at this point, is no longer an option without intervention (detox, medication, treatment, support).
Drug Addiction Evidence-Based Treatment Works
Addiction treatment works! According to the government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.2 million persons aged 12 and older needed treatment for illicit drug and alcohol use in 2007. Of that number, 20.8 million people DID NOT receive appropriate treatment of any kind. Since that time the number has continued to grow.
Drug addiction treatment must address every aspect of an individual’s life to provide him or her with the tools necessary for long-term abstinence. No single approach will work for everyone. Mental health status, physical health, and emotional health must be addressed simultaneously. It is clear from the research that a significant percentage of those suffering from substance abuse (including drugs, alcohol, tobacco, food) also suffer from a mental health condition (depression, anxiety, paranoia, bi-polar). Because of this, an individualized treatment plan must be developed, regularly re-evaluated and adjusted to address all issues related to the client. Long-term abstinence and personal growth and productivity are dependent on treatment of the whole person. One size fits all treatment never works!
Clients who receive an individualized, comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment approach under the guidance of licensed clinicians, with expertise in addiction treatment, have a better chance of obtaining the tools needed for living a drug-free life.
For more information on comprehensive, evidence-based drug addiction treatment, call now. Our staff will be able to answer all your questions. Call now and get on the road to recovery today.