A drug is any substance that alters the human body, especially in the brain or our central nervous system. Drugs can be consumed in many ways, including injection, snorting, swallowing or smoking. Drugs can be divided into two broad categories, and these are legal and illegal. Legal drugs are those which are readily available in pharmacies or through a doctor’s prescription. Illegal drugs are usually sold on the street, and their possession is prohibited by law.
People use drugs for various reasons. Legal drugs are usually prescribed for legitimate health problems, but when the patient decides to take the drug in more than the recommended dosage – this can lead to addiction. Athletes may use drugs to give them an edge in performance. Street drugs are often purchased by those who suffer from stress, anxiety or alienation, and who are looking for an escape from reality.
There are some individuals who use legal or illegal drugs without ever having any significant problems, while others who try out drugs for the first time wind up seriously affected. For others, drug abuse leads to a lifelong struggle which can destroy their careers, health, mental well-being, relationships and even their lives.
Warning Signs of Drug Addiction
There are hundreds of drugs available on the global market, both legal and illegal. As a result, it is difficult to narrow down any defining warning signs. However, there are some common characteristics that all drugs share, whether they are purchased legally or illegally. When misused, most drugs will change the manner in which the brain functions. The dopamine levels of the user will increase, which will provide feelings of pleasure. The brain recalls these pleasant experiences, and wants them repeated as much as possible. This leads to the following:
- The drug becomes as important as food
- Reduced ability to think clearly
- Poor judgment and behavior
- Cravings which are virtually uncontrollable
- Feelings of denial regarding the addiction
Side Effects of Drug Abuse
There are many side effects associated with drug addiction, and specific effects will depend on the drug being abused. However, in general, both the behavior and physical health of the addict will deteriorate. Many drugs, both legal and illegal, will reduce the ability of the body to function in a normal way. Some common side effects which are seen with most drugs include:
- A loss of appetite
- Mood swings
- Fast or irregular heart beat
- Physical or mental deterioration
- Behavioral changes
It is difficult for those who’ve never been addicted to drugs to appreciate just how strong the cravings can be. Many former addicts have compared it to starvation or extreme thirst. This is why many addicts will commit crimes in order to get their next fix, because their brains see the drug as being like food or water, a necessity.
To break free from this addiction, professional help is needed. This is why drug addicts should seek drug rehab and treatment programs. These facilities allow addicts to recover in a stable inpatient environment or under ongoing outpatient supervision, where they can get all the help they need. Their addiction levels will be assessed and a proper treatment program will be provided. Rehab services can be expensive but many treatment facilities do accept both private and public insurance to offset the treatment costs.
Contact us at NeuroPsychiatric Addiction Clinic, where we can get you started on your journey towards full recovery and a drug-free life.