Drug Addiction Treatment
Drug addiction, which is also known as “substance use disorder,” is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior, and results in an inability to control the use of drugs or illegal or legal drugs. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine are also considered drugs. When you are addicted, you may continue to use the drug despite the damage it causes.
Drug addiction can begin with the experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations and, in some people, the use of the drug becomes more frequent. In other people, especially with opioids, drug addiction begins with exposure to prescription drugs, or when receiving medication from a friend or family member who was prescribed.
The risk of addiction and the speed with which you become addicted vary according to the drug. Some drugs, such as opioid analgesics, carry a higher risk and cause addiction faster than others.
With the passage of time, you probably need higher doses of the drug to feel the effects. In a short time, you probably need the drug just to feel good. As your consumption of the drug increases, you will find that it is increasingly difficult to live without it. Attempts to stop using the drug can cause intense cravings for it and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).
You may need help from your doctor, family members, friends, support groups and an organized treatment program to overcome your drug addiction and stay away from them.
Symptoms Of Drug Addiction
Symptoms or behaviors of drug addiction include the following:
- Feeling that you have to use the drug frequently, either daily or even several times a day
- Having such an intense need to consume the drug that you can not think of anything else
- Over time, you need a higher dose of the drug to get the same effect
- Consume larger amounts of the drug for a longer period of time than you had thought
- Making sure you have drugs available
- Spend money on the drug, even when you can not pay it.
- Failure to comply with work obligations and responsibilities, or reduce the time you spend on social or recreational activities due to the use of the drug
- Continue to use the drug even though you know it is causing you problems in your life or physical or psychological damage
- Do things you would not normally do to get the drug, like stealing
- Driving or doing other dangerous activities when you are under the effects of the drug
- Dedicate a lot of time trying to get the drug, to consume it or to recover from its effects
- Fail in your attempts to stop using the drug
- Experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking the drug
How to recognize unhealthy drug use in family members
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish normal moodiness or anguish of an adolescent from the signs of drug use. The possible indications that a family member, adolescent or not, use drugs are the following:
- Problems at school or at work : frequent absences from classes or work, sudden disinterest in school or work activities, lower grades or decreased job performance
- Physical health problems : lack of energy and motivation, weight loss or increase in weight or red eyes
- Disheveled appearance : lack of interest in clothes, grooming or appearance
- Behavior changes : exaggerated efforts to prohibit family members from entering your room or being reserved about where you are going with your friends; or radical changes in behavior and in relationships with family and friends
- Money problems : sudden requests for money without reasonable explanation; or you may discover that money is missing or stolen, or that objects have disappeared from your home, indicating that they may have been sold to sustain drug use.
When to see the doctor
If your drug use is out of control or causes problems, ask for help. The sooner you get help, the greater your chances of long-term recovery. Talk to your primary care doctor or consult a mental health professional, such as a specialist in drug addiction or addiction psychiatry, or an authorized alcohol and drug therapist.
Ask for a consultation to see a doctor if:
- You can not stop the use of a drug
- You continue to use the drug despite the damage it causes
- Your use of the drug has led to dangerous behaviors, such as sharing needles or having unprotected sex
- You think you may be having withdrawal symptoms after stopping the drug
If you are not ready to see a doctor, help lines or direct numbers can be useful for information about treatments. You can find these numbers on the Internet.
When to seek emergency assistance
Seek emergency help if you or someone you know used a drug and:
- They could have an overdose
- Present changes in knowledge
- They have trouble breathing
- They have fits or convulsions
- They show signs of heart attack, such as chest pain or pressure
- Have some other problematic physical or psychological reaction after drug use
Preparations for an intervention
People with addiction problems generally deny that their drug use is problematic and are reluctant to seek treatment. In an intervention, a loved one is presented with a structured opportunity to make changes before everything gets worse, which can motivate that person to seek or accept help.
An intervention must be well planned and can be carried out by family and friends with the advice of a doctor or professional, such as an authorized alcohol and drug consultant, or it can be directed by an intervention professional. Involves family members, friends and, sometimes, co-workers, priests or other people who are concerned about the addiction problem of the person in question.
During the intervention, these people meet to have a direct and sincere conversation with the person about the consequences of the addiction, and they ask him to accept the treatment.
Causes of drug addiction
As in many mental health disorders, there are several factors that can contribute to the development of drug addiction. The main factors are the following:
- Environmental Environmental factors, such as your family’s beliefs and attitudes, and exposure to peer groups that encourage drug use, often influence the onset of drug use.
- Genetic Once you have started using a drug, the switch to addiction depends on inherited (genetic) traits, which can delay or accelerate the progression of the disease.
Changes in the brain
Physical addiction seems to occur when the repeated use of a drug changes the way the brain perceives pleasure. The drug of addiction causes physical changes in some nerve cells (neurons) of the brain. Neurons use chemicals called “neurotransmitters” to communicate. These changes may remain long after you stop using the drug.
People of any age, sex or economic situation can become addicted to a drug. There are certain factors that can affect the likelihood of an addiction and the speed with which it is acquired:
- Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more frequent in some families and probably implies a genetic predisposition. If you have a blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, there is a greater risk that you would have drug addiction.
- Mental health disorder. If you have a mental health disorder, such as depression, attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, you are more likely to become addicted to drugs. Consuming drugs can become a way to deal with painful feelings, such as anxiety, depression and loneliness, and further worsen these problems.
- Social pressure. Social pressure is an important factor to begin to consume drugs or have an inappropriate consumption, especially for young people.
- Lack of family involvement Difficult family situations or lack of a bond with your parents or siblings can increase the risk of addiction, as can the lack of parental supervision.
- Early consumption Consuming drugs at an early age can cause changes in the developing brain and increase the likelihood of progressing towards an addiction.
- Taking a highly addictive drug. Some drugs, such as stimulants, cocaine or opioid analgesics, can cause a faster progression of addiction than other drugs. Smoking or injecting drugs can increase the likelihood of an addiction. Consuming drugs that are considered less addictive, the so-called “light drugs”, can be the beginning of drug use and addiction.
Drug addiction complications
The use of drugs can have harmful and significant effects in the short and long term. The consumption of some drugs can be especially risky, especially if you take high doses or combine them with other drugs or alcohol. These are some examples.
- Methamphetamine, opiates and cocaine are very addictive and can have multiple health consequences in the short and long term, such as psychotic behavior, seizures or death from overdose.
- Γ-Hydroxybutyric acid and flunitrazepam can cause sedation, confusion and memory loss. It is known that these drugs, known as “rapist drugs”, affect the ability to resist unwanted contact and the memory of the episode. In high doses, they can cause seizures, coma and death. The danger increases when these drugs are consumed with alcohol.
- Ecstasy or Molly (MDMA) can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and complications that may include seizures. In the long term, MDMA can damage the brain.
- A particular danger of synthetic drugs is that the liquid, pill or powder forms of these street-available drugs often contain unknown substances that can be harmful, such as other illegally manufactured drugs or drugs.
- Due to the toxic characteristics of the drugs that are inhaled, consumers can suffer brain damage of varying degrees of severity.
Other complications that changes life
Dependence on drugs can cause several dangerous and harmful complications, for example:
- Get a contagious disease. People who are addicted to a drug are more likely to get an infectious disease, such as HIV, from either having unsafe sex or sharing needles.
- Other health problems Drug addiction can cause various physical and mental health problems in the short and long term. This depends on the drug that is consumed.
- Accidents People who are addicted to drugs are more likely to drive or perform other dangerous activities while they are under the influence.
- Suicide. People addicted to drugs are more likely to die by suicide compared to people who are not addicted.
- Family problems. Changes in behavior can lead to marital or family conflicts and custody problems.
- Labor problems Drug use can cause a decrease in job performance, absenteeism and, over time, loss of employment.
- Problems at school. Drug use can negatively affect academic performance and motivation to excel in school.
- Legal issues. Legal problems are frequent in drug users; They may be due to the purchase or possession of illegal drugs, robbery to maintain addiction, driving vehicles under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or conflicts over the custody of children.
- Financial problems. Spending money on drug use means that you spend less money on your other needs, which could lead to illegal or unethical debts and behaviors.
Preventing drug dependence
The best way to avoid becoming addicted to a substance is to not even try it once. If the doctor prescribes a medication that can cause addiction, be careful when you take it and follow the instructions it gave you.
Doctors must prescribe these medicines in safe doses and quantities, and control their consumption so that you do not receive a dose too high or for too long. If you feel you have to take more than the prescribed dose of a medication, contact your doctor.
How to prevent the inappropriate use of drugs in children and adolescents
Take these steps to help prevent the inappropriate use of drugs in your children and adolescents:
- Communicate Talk to your children about the risks of drug use and inappropriate use.
- Listen out. Pay attention when your children talk about peer pressure and show your support for their efforts to resist it.
- Give a good example. Do not consume alcohol or addictive drugs inappropriately. Children of parents who use drugs inappropriately are at increased risk of drug addiction.
- Strengthen the bond Work in the relationship with your children. A strong and stable bond between you and your child will reduce the risk of your child using drugs or having inappropriate drug use.
How to prevent a relapse
Once you were addicted to a drug, you have a high risk of falling back into an addictive pattern. If you start using the drug, you are likely to lose control over your use again, even if you have been treated and have not used drugs for a while.
- Comply with your treatment plan. Control your cravings It may seem as if you had recovered and do not need to continue taking steps to stay away from drugs. However, your chances of staying away from drugs will be greater if you continue to see your therapist or advisor, if you attend support group meetings and if you take the prescribed medication.
- Avoid high risk situations. Do not go back to the neighborhood where you used to get drugs. And get away from the previous group that used drugs.
- Get help right away if you’ve used drugs again. If you have used drugs again, talk to your doctor, your mental health professional or someone else who can help you immediately.
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