Drug addiction is also referred to as ‘substance misuse’ or ‘substance dependency’. Drug addiction may be physical or psychological in nature. When a physical dependency arises, this means a number of physical withdrawal symptoms are experienced when the individual begins to refrain from taking these drugs he or she has become dependent upon. Here, a number of physical withdrawal symptoms will be experienced.
By far the safest way to overcome drug addiction is to undergo a medically assisted detox. You may be given substitute drugs to wean you off drugs over several days or weeks. This will allow you to detox without suffering from potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Undergoing a detox will treat the symptoms of drug addiction. However, since addiction is a psychological disease, it’s usually best practice to undergo an intensive inpatient rehabilitation programme to run concurrently with your detox programme.
If you suffer from drug addiction, many people you know will say your addiction is entirely ‘self-inflicted’. This is despite overwhelming evidence that addiction is, in fact, a complex disease and that ‘getting clean’ is not necessarily a matter of merely having enough willpower. Technically, addiction is a chronic disease of the mind. Drug addiction is characterised by compulsive drug taking and complete loss of control when it comes to this consumption.
Whilst initial drug consumption may be categorised as voluntary, repeated drug use causes complex alterations in the chemistry of the brain. These changes make it difficult to stop taking drugs. Powerful cravings to continue taking drugs arise, and in some cases, a number of highly discomforting or even deadly withdrawal symptoms arise when the drug in question is not consumed within several hours after last use. These urges to continue to take drugs may arise even following several years of complete abstinence. This is why drug addiction is often referred to as a ‘relapsing’ disease.
Drugs affect the brain’s “reward circuits”. Drugs achieve these alterations by flooding the brain with a chemical messenger known as dopamine. Dopamine causes the individual to experience pleasure. Dopamine also causes the individual to repeat this behaviour in the future. A ‘high’ is experienced largely because of the relapse of dopamine when drugs are consumed. Following drug use, the brain will then produce smaller amounts of dopamine in the future. Drug users eventually must take drugs in order to feel ‘normal’ because of diminishing dopamine levels induced by substance misuse.
Currently, there is no cure for drug addiction. Drug addiction is similar in this regard to other chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. However, drug addiction may be arrested. Over time, the risk of relapse becomes ever fainter. Addiction is best treated using a range of behavioural therapies and medications. Drug addiction treatment is most successful when it is tailored to each individual’s particular needs.
If you or your loved one suffer from any of the above drug addictions, give us a call now so we may offer you free help and support in overcoming this addiction. We work with treatment providers across the United Kingdom, and we will help you locate treatment that’s absolutely right for your needs.