Drug addiction, also referred to as chemical dependency or substance dependence, is a complex brain disease characterized by a dangerous pattern of abusing drugs which leads to major problems involving withdrawal from or tolerance to the drug. A drug addict usually has compulsive, at times unmanageable cravings for the drug and continues to use it regardless of the extreme negative consequences it brings.
Drug addiction usually starts off as casual drug use. This disease can cause severe, long-term consequences which include problems with mental and physical health, relationships, the law, and employment. Drug addiction often becomes chronic for many people and may relapse even after a long period of abstinence. When an addicted person abruptly stops taking the drug, he can experience very severe withdrawal symptoms.
Causes of Drug Addiction
Drug abuse may eventually lead to addiction. People who take drugs for pain relief can also become addicted to drugs. Drug dependence usually depends on several factors. The main factors are: Your genes, once you begin using a drug, inherited traits may determine if you eventually become addicted to it. Environmental factors, these include your family’s attitudes and beliefs, and exposure to an environment which encourages drug use.
People who are more likely to become addicted to drugs include those who:
- Have problems with relationships
- Have a low self-esteem
- Have anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder
- Have good access to drugs
- Live a stressful life, emotional or economical
- Live in an environment where drug use is accepted
The drugs most commonly abused by people include:
Central Nervous System Stimulants
These drugs usually have a stimulating effect which makes people to increase the dosage in order to feel the same way. By increasing the dosage, a person develops tolerance to the drug. Drugs in this group include cocaine, methamphetamine, ritalin (methylphenidate), dextroamphetamine.
Opiates and Narcotics
These are strong painkillers that have a sedative effect and sometimes give one a feeling of euphoria. These drugs include opium, heroin, demerol (meperidine), codeine, oxycontin (oxycodone), and dilaudid (hydromorphone).
These drugs can cause a person to see things that don’t exist (have hallucinations) and create psychological dependence. Examples of these drugs are mescaline, LSD, phencyclidine (PCP), and psilocybin.
Central Nervous System Stimulants
These drugs have anxiety-reducing and sedative effects which can make a person become addicted to them. Some examples are chloral hydrate, alcohol, paraldehyde, benzodiazepines (like xanax, ativan, and valium), and barbiturates (such as pentobarbital, amobarbital, and secobarbital).
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): This is the active component found in hashish, and marijuana. THC is an excellent painkiller.
Many drug addicts start using drugs casually or at social functions. This casual use later becomes a habit that’s gets more frequent. The person takes higher doses of the drug in order to get high. As the drug use increases, the person finds it very difficult to live without the drug and uses it simply to feel good. When he tries to stop using the drug, he experiences intense cravings that can make him physically ill.
Drug addiction may lead to a drug overdose which may result in death. If you are addicted to drugs, seek medical help immediately (detox drug rehab). Also join a support group with other people who want to stay off drugs. This will help you to overcome your addiction.