Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is very often stigmatised in today's society. Those who have no experience of this devastating illness view it as a sign of weakness in an individual or something that affects a particular type of person. The truth, however, is that drug addiction can affect people of all ages, colour, background and economic status. It is not something that anyone chooses, and it destroys the lives of all affected.

Many believe that drug addicts lack the willpower or simply refuse to stop taking drugs but this is not the case. Those who are struggling with drug addiction cannot stop because the drugs have changed the chemistry of the brain, in effect changing the way it works. The affected individuals have no control over their compulsions and, no matter how much they may want to stop, they find it impossible to do so without help.

At Recovery Lighthouse, we understand the difficulties faced by those with drug addiction issues and we know that this is an illness that requires a high level of treatment. This is why we have some of the best counsellors and advisors on hand who, through their experiences, can help those suffering from addiction to overcome their problems.

How Drugs Change Brain Function

Drugs change the way the brain works by disrupting the messages that the brain sends to nerve cells. Drugs can overstimulate the brain's reward system and can imitate natural chemical messengers within the organ.

Drugs cause a surge of chemicals known as dopamine in the brain. These chemicals are responsible for feelings of pleasure; in essence, once the brain has experienced these feelings, it wants them over and over again. Repeated use of drugs can interfere with a person's ability to think clearly or make good decisions. Those addicted to drugs may find that they do not feel normal unless they are taking drugs and they have no control over their behaviour or their compulsions.

Drug addicts find that the urge to take drugs is so strong that they begin to rationalise their addiction and come up with reasons why they should be taking the substances. They may deny they have a problem rather than face up to it as denying it means they can carry on with what they are doing. No matter what family members or loved ones say to them, the affected persons continue to take drugs because they cannot stop.

As drug addicts continue to take drugs, the brain will become tolerant to the surges in dopamine and will begin to reduce receptors to these chemicals. This results in the addict taking more and more of the drug to get the same effects. The addiction becomes worse and it becomes harder for him or her to live without the substance to which they are addicted.

Why Does Addiction Affect Some People but not Others?

Some people can experiment with drugs or take them recreationally without this ever becoming a problem or causing harm in their lives. However, for others, drugs can quickly become an addiction that takes over and destroys their lives. So why does this happen?

Although there is no specific reason one person will become addicted and another will not, there are a number of factors that can make addiction more likely. Below are a few examples:

  • Genetics: Some individuals are born with genes that will make them more vulnerable to addiction. Scientists believe that the risk for drug addiction is higher in those who have certain genes although, in many instances, the person's environment will determine whether or not they will develop a drug addiction. While some are predisposed to develop addiction, it will be their particular set of circumstances that will be the deciding factor.
  • Circumstances: Experiences in life and individual circumstances will play a role in whether or not a person is more likely to develop a drug Those who live in areas where drug use is rife may be more liable to try drugs than people who have not had any exposure. Family history of addiction may also make a person more likely to become addicted to drugs, as can peer pressure and quality of life.
  • Mental Health: A person's mental health may contribute to the likelihood of them developing a drug Those who are suffering from mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder have an increased risk of developing addiction to drugs.
  • Traumatic Events: Those who have had to deal with trauma in their lives are in danger of developing drug addictions. Experiences including physical, emotional or sexual abuse in childhood can lead to addiction, as can the death of a parent or child. Many people who have suffered a harrowing event will be haunted by the memories and may turn to drugs as a way to escape the pain.

Although the above are some of the risk factors associated with drug addiction, there is no certainty that people with these risk factors will go on to become drug addicts. In fact, many individuals will have all of these factors and more without becoming addicted to drugs or other substances.

Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Addiction does not happen overnight. It begins with exposure and is generally followed by habitual use before a person becomes dependent and then addicted. By the time a person has become addicted to drugs, there will be many signs and symptoms. Symptoms can be physical and psychological; below are a few examples:

  • Having intense cravings for the drug when not using it
  • Needing to use more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Feeling the need to use the drug more often
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or work
  • Avoiding certain activities in favour of taking drugs
  • Stealing to get money to pay for drugs
  • Spending money you cannot afford on drugs
  • Promising to stop taking drugs but being unable to
  • Taking prescription medication that was not prescribed for you
  • Feeling shaky or sweating a lot when the effects of the drug wear off
  • Suffering from headaches or sickness when not taking drugs
  • Having trouble sleeping or eating
  • Lying to friends and family about your drug use because 'they wouldn't understand'.

Getting Help

While prevention is always better than cure when it comes to drug addiction, at Recovery Lighthouse we know that treatment can help. Drug addiction is complex and requires a tailored solution for each person in order to ensure that he or she is getting the help required.

At Recovery Lighthouse, we firmly believe that a one size fits all approach to drug addiction is ineffective. We work with our clients and their families to ensure a specific treatment plan is developed. Our aim is to make sure that our clients can go on to live drug-free and happy lives; our experienced counsellors and therapists have a wealth of experience behind them and all the tools needed to make sure this happens.

All too often, people with drug addiction go untreated because they simply do not know how to access the treatments they need. We want to reassure you that it is possible to overcome drug addiction with the right support and treatments, and we believe we are the ones to help you do this. If you want to get your life back on track, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today. We can help you on the road to recovery and are waiting to hear from you. Do not waste another day struggling with addiction there has never been a better time to put yourself first.

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