Drug Addiction

Drug Addition is a chronic and relapsing disease in the brain wherein the patient constantly and compulsively seeks drugs despite its harmful consequences. Because of the characteristics of the drug, drug addiction can both be reinforcing and rewarding. It is a disorder that affects people of all walks of life.

It begins with the decision to take drugs for the first time. But the continued use and prolonged exposure to drugs can eventually lead to drug addiction. As of 2014, it affects 27 million Americans aged 12 years and up. Meanwhile, 2.5% of Americans aged 12 years and up is reported to have misused stimulants, relievers, tranquilizers and sedatives in 2013.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of drug abuse manifest physically and behaviorally. The following are the signs and symptoms of drug abuse:

  1. Dilated or constricted pupils;
  2. Drowsiness and nausea
  3. Glazed or bloodshot eyes;
  4. Bruises;
  5. Infections;
  6. High blood pressure;
  7. Breathing issues;
  8. Abrupt weight changes;
  9. Lethargy;
  10. Depression;
  11. Involuntary eye twitching;
  12. Energy levels fluctuation;
  13. Memory trouble and slurred speech;
  14. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms;
  15. Financial problems;
  16. Increased aggression or irritability;
  17. Personality/ attitude shift
  18. Criminal activity involvement;
  19. Changes in habits and other regular activities; and
  20. Withdrawal from the society.

 Risk factors

Although drug addiction affects people from all facets of the society, there are certain risk factors. The following are some of the risk factors of drug addiction:

  • Family history of drug addiction: Certain studies show that individuals coming from families with a history of drug addiction are more likely to become drug addicts than those who do not have any drug addict relatives.
  • Early use: Aside from genetics, early drug use is also a risk factor of drug addiction.
  • Mental health disorder: Those with anxiety, loneliness and depression are more inclined to use drugs to cope with the painful feelings. Other mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) can also become risk factors.
  • Lack of a support group: A lack of a strong support group can lead to drug addiction. Most individuals turn to drugs when experiencing difficult situations. A strong support group could prevent this.
  • Peer pressure: An individual who is friends with drug addicts is more likely to become a drug addict as well. This is especially true for young people.
  • Other life-altering situations like death of a family, financial problems, family problems and involvement in criminal activity.

Drug addiction is related with opiods like heroin, hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl, methadone, morphine and oxycodone. The most commonly abused depressants are GHB, barbiturates, sedative-hypnotics, and benzodiazepines. The commonly abused suppressants are methamphetamine, cocaine and amphetamines. Meanwhile, the commonly abused hallucinogens are LSD, K2, Ecstasy, Psilocybin, Ketamine and Peyote.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Drug addiction diagnosis requires thorough evaluation and assessment. Certain medical tests such as blood tests and urine tests are also needed.

Drug addiction treatment, on the other hand, is a five-step process. It starts with detoxification then behavioral counseling, medication-assisted treatment, evaluation and treatment for co-occurring disorders and lastly long-term plan for relapse prevention.

The hardest part of drug addiction is withdrawal and detoxification. Medications are often prescribed to help the patient during the withdrawal period. Some individuals need to be confined in a institute while others can undergo through the therapy as an outpatient.

Behavioral therapy, on the other hand, is done with a psychiatrist, psychologist, drug counselor or licensed alcohol counselor. The counselor can suggest techniques and strategies to prevent relapse. He or she can also suggest ways to deal with relapse. Behavioral therapy can also include focus groups, self-help groups and group yoga sessions.

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