Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease. It causes the person to use drugs repeatedly despite the harm done. Repeated drug use can alter the brain and lead to addiction.
Brain changes from addiction can be permanent, so drug addiction is considered a “recurring” illness. This means that people in recovery are at risk of taking medication again, even if they have not taken medication for years.
Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. Everyone’s body and brain are different, so their response to medications may also be different. Some people can become addicted quickly or over time. Other people never become addicted. Whether or not a person becomes addicted depends on many factors. These include genetic, environmental and developmental factors.
💀 Physical addiction seems to occur when repeated use of a drug changes the way your brain experiences pleasure. The addictive drug causes physical changes in certain nerve cells (neurons) in your brain. Neurons use chemicals called neurotransmitters to communicate. These changes may persist long after you stop using the drug.
Addiction to drugs can cause a number of dangerous and damaging complications, including:
🦠 Catching an infectious disease: People who are addicted to a drug are more likely to contract an infectious disease such as HIV through unsafe sex or by sharing needles.
🏥 Other health problems: Drug addiction can lead to a range of mental and physical health problems, both short-term and long-term. These depend on which drug is taken.
🚗 Accidents: People addicted to drugs are more likely to drive or engage in other dangerous activities while under the influence.
💀 Suicide: People addicted to drugs die by suicide more often than non-addicts.
👪 Family problems: Behavior changes can cause marital or family conflicts and custody issues.
💼 Business problems: Drug use can lead to poor performance at work, absenteeism and eventual loss of employment.
🏫 Problems at school: Drug use can negatively affect academic performance and motivation to succeed in school.
⚖ Legal issues: Legal problems are common for drug users and can result from purchasing or possessing illegal drugs, stealing to support drug addiction, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or disputes over custody of children.
💲 Financial problems: Spending money to support drug use takes money from other needs, can lead to debt and lead to illegal or unethical behavior.
Drug addiction symptoms or behaviors include, among others:
- The feeling that you need to use the drug regularly – daily or even several times a day
- Having intense urges towards the drug that inhibits other thoughts
- Needing more medication over time to get the same effect
- Taking larger amounts of medication over a longer period of time than planned
- Making sure you have the supply of the drug
- Spending money on medicine even if you can’t afford it
- Failure to meet obligations and job responsibilities or cut back on social or recreational activities due to drug use
- Continuing to use the drug even though you know it is causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm
- Doing things you wouldn’t normally do to get the drug, such as stealing
- Driving or engaging in other risky activities while under the influence of drugs
- Spending too much time taking drugs, using the drug, or recovering from the effects of the drug
- Unsuccessful attempts to stop using drugs
- If you experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking the medicine
The best way to prevent addiction to a substance is to not take the drug at all. If your doctor prescribes a potentially addictive drug, be careful when taking the drug and follow your doctor’s instructions.
Doctors should prescribe these drugs in safe doses and amounts and monitor their use so that they are not given to you too much or for too long. If you think you need to take more than the prescribed dose of a medicine, talk to your doctor.
✅ Prevention of recurrence
Once you are addicted to a drug, you run the risk of falling back into a pattern of addiction. If you start using drugs, you’ll likely lose control over their use again, even if you’ve had treatment and haven’t used the drug for a while.
Stick to your treatment plan: Monitor your wishes. You may appear to have recovered and you do not need to continue taking steps to stay drug-free. But if you continue to see your therapist or counselor, support group meetings, and take prescription medications, your chances of staying drug-free will be much higher.
Avoid high-risk situations: Don’t go back to the neighborhood where you bought drugs. And stay away from the old drug crowd.
If you use the medicine again, get help right away. If you start using the medicine again, talk to your doctor, mental health professional, or anyone else who can help you right away.