What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop. The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. But over time, a person’s ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised. Seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function. Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior.

Drug addiction is a complex disease that requires integrated treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain — they change its structure and how it works. Without treatment, these brain changes can be long-lasting. Addiction is chronic, it is progressive, and if left untreated, it can be fatal.

Individuals struggling with drug addiction often feel as though they cannot function normally without their drug of choice. This can lead to a wide range of issues that impact professional goals, personal relationships, and overall health. Over time, these serious side effects can be progressive, and if left untreated, fatal.

How many people get treatment for drug addiction?

According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 22.5 million people (8.5 percent of the U.S. population) aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit* drug or alcohol use problem in 2014. Only 4.2 million (18.5 percent of those who needed treatment) received any substance use treatment in the same year. Of these, about 2.6 million people received treatment at specialty treatment programs (CBHSQ, 2015).

*The term “illicit” refers to the use of illegal drugs, including marijuana according to federal law, and misuse of prescription medications.

Drug addiction is a complex neurobiological disease that requires integrated treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain — they change its structure and how it works. Without treatment, these brain changes can be long-lasting. Addiction is chronic, it is progressive, and if left untreated, it can be fatal.

Individuals struggling with drug addiction often feel as though they cannot function normally without their drug of choice. This can lead to a wide range of issues that impact professional goals, personal relationships, and overall health. Over time, these serious side effects can be progressive, and if left untreated, fatal.

Commonly Used Illegal Drugs that are Addictive

Drugs are classified in a number of ways. Many are potentially addictive and harmful. Examples of illegal drugs include:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine or crack cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Bath Salts
  • Methadone
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana
  • LSD
  • Mushrooms
  • PCP

Commonly Used Addictive Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs which can be obtained legally are also used by all age groups for non-medical reasons, often in combination with alcohol. The risks of drug interaction or accidental overdose can be deadly.

Commonly used and misused prescription drugs include:

  • Opioid painkillers
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Stimulants, such as those used to treat ADHD
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-obsessive agents
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Alcohol Is a Drug – One of the most common misconceptions is that alcohol is not a drug. Though legal, alcohol is a mind-altering substance. When taken in combination with other drugs, the effects can be deadly. To learn more about alcoholism, visit us here.

Warning Signs of Drug Addiction

Sometimes the warning signs of alcohol misuse or abuse are very noticeable. Other times, they can take longer to surface. When drug addiction is discovered in its early stages, the chance for a successful recovery increases significantly.

Common signs of drug addiction include:

  • Loss of control
  • Continued problems despite negative consequences
  • Spending less time on activities that used to be important, such as hanging out with family and friends, exercising, or pursuing hobbies or other interests
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Taking serious risks in order to obtain one’s drug of choice
  • Acting out in personal relationships, particularly if someone is attempting to address their substance problems
  • Going out of one’s way to hide the amount of drugs taken
  • Serious changes or deterioration in hygiene or physical appearance
  • Needing to use more and more of the drug in order to produce the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, trembling, sweating, nausea or fatigue

If you feel as though drug addiction is taking a toll on your life, it’s important to find quality treatment that can help you overcome addiction.

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Copyright © 2019 by Woodlake Management, LLC.
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Copyright © 2019 by Woodlake Management, LLC.
All rights reserved.