Many of us can consume prescription or recreational drugs without involving problems like addiction. But for some, substance abuse can be a ruse to escape from problems of your life and result in serious consequences. This may led to more serious problems like emotions of shame, isolation and helplessness.
If one is worried about drug addiction of a friend and family member, it is good to know that help is at hand. Common problems are drug, nicotine and alcohol abuse. Thankfully, there are facilities available for in-patient and outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse and drug abuse.
HOW DOES DRUG ABUSE START?
There are various reasons why people start with drugs. First-time use is mainly to whet curiosity. Next reasons are to enjoy a good time, give company to peers and friends, trying to improve athletic performance or to alleviate other problems like depression, anxiety or stress.
Use of drugs does not necessarily lead to abuse and there is also no specific point when drugs use transforms into a problem. Drug abuse is less about a frequency of drug use and more about its harmful consequences. If drug abuse is creating problems in your life- home, school, work, relationships, it is likely that you have a drug addiction problem.
FACTORS AFFECTING DRUG ABUSE:
There are certain factors that make you more vulnerable to drug addiction. These include:
- Family history of addiction
- Mental disorders like anxiety and depression
- Traumatic experiences like neglect or abuse
- Use of drugs at an early age
- Mode of drug use- injecting or smoking may enhance its addictive potential.
ADDICTION AND THE BRAIN:
Drug abuse is a complex disease featuring the compulsive use of drugs. Be it prescription or illicit drugs or alcohol or nicotine, the common feature is that it causes the change in brain function.
Taking a drug causes a rush of pleasure through the rise in dopamine, a chemical in the brain. The brain thus desires repeated feelings of such pleasure. Cravings for drugs increase when the addict develops tolerance or decreased pleasure sensation needing increased intake of drugs to recreate the first feelings of pleasure. Changes in the brain impede the ability for clear thinking, exercising proper judgment, controlling behavior and feeling normal without drugs.
HOW DOES DRUG ABUSE DEVELOP?
There is a thin line between drug use and abuse. Most addicts fail to realize that they have a problem. The amount and frequency of drug use do not necessarily cause addiction but they can indicate problems related to drugs.
- Social factors: Most of the time, people try using drugs in a social situation-in the company of friends and peers. They may feel the necessity to experiment with drugs in order to fit within a group.
- Habit formation: Your drug use can grow prolonged over time. Consuming ecstasy at a rave party, smoking a joint over the weekend with friends, or trying cocaine for a high can transform occasional drug use to daily use. Slowly, buying and using drugs become more desirable for you.
- Need fulfillment: You may start using more and more drugs if it serves some valuable need in you. You may take drugs to feel calm and confident. You may use prescription drugs to alleviate chronic pain or control panic attacks. Till you find healthy models to serve these needs, you may rely on drug use.
Eventually, drug abuse can consume your whole life, disturbing normal physical, the social and economic functioning of the addict. Treatment may involve medication, behavioral therapy, and in-patient or out-patient drug detox. Success depends on hard work and commitment to the treatment program.