The issue of who drug addiction affects is one that often comes up, especially among those who have found themselves struggling with one themselves. With so much stigma attached to drug addiction, it is not difficult to understand why some individuals would be horrified at the suggestion that they might be affected.
Moreover, while most people assume that the term ‘drug addiction’ refers only to those who abuse illegal drugs, this is not always the case. In fact, many individuals have unwittingly found themselves addicted to the drugs they were prescribed by a doctor for the treatment of a genuine medical condition.
Who Is Affected by Drug Addiction?
So the answer to the question of who drug addiction affects is – anyone. Anyone who uses any sort of mood-altering substance is at risk of developing an addiction, although we have to point out that not everyone will. There are some people who can use their prescription medication as advised by their doctor and never even get close to developing an addiction. Furthermore, there are those who can use illegal substances for recreational purposes without their use of these substances affecting their lives.
Nevertheless, there are some who will become so consumed by the substance they are taking that they are incapable of going about their daily lives without it. They can think of nothing but the drug they crave or ‘need’. As their illness progresses, they spend most of their time either under the influence of the drug or thinking about it.
Some think that addiction is a lifestyle choice; that it is something that only affects the weak or those with no willpower. This is completely false. Drug addiction is an illness of the brain and those who do develop this illness have absolutely no choice whatsoever. Nobody chooses to become an addict; why would they?
Addiction can affect anyone, no matter what age they are, what their gender, religion, race, or background. It is not something that purely affects those from deprived backgrounds or with a poor education, despite what many others believe.
What Causes Drug Addiction?
It is impossible to identify one single cause of drug addiction in every person with the illness. For some, it can be the result of a family history of addiction, while in others addiction is the result of unresolved trauma that has been self-medicated with a chemical substance.
Everyone affected has a reason for using drugs in the first place. Some do so out of boredom while others do so because they have been advised to take medication for relief from a medical condition. Not one single person takes drugs with the intention of becoming an addict.
Researchers have discovered that while it is impossible to pinpoint an exact cause of the illness in those who do develop an addiction, it is known that the structure of their brain changes. Mood-altering substances can have a profound effect on the brains of certain individuals. These substances can hijack the pleasure and reward centres of the affected person’s brain, making them experience more intense feelings of pleasure when taking the drug. This, in turn, makes them believe that this is a rewarding experience.
Many will want to recreate these feelings repeatedly and so will continue using drugs to do so. Nonetheless, regular use of the drugs can alter the structure of their brain and lead to a physical and psychological dependence that they are then unable to break free from.
The Impact of Drug Addiction
When considering the question of who drug addiction affects, we can say for sure that it could potentially affect anyone taking any sort of medication or illegal substance. But if we are considering who drug addiction affects in terms of the impact it can have, this is another issue entirely.
It is obvious that drug addiction is going to have a negative impact on the individual. The person abusing the drugs is going to suffer tremendously in terms of mental and physical health. Depending on the drug being abused, the effects on health can be immense. Drug misuse can lead to many problems, some of which can even become life-threatening.
However, drug misuse also causes issues in other areas of the affected individual’s life. As this illness gets worse, the person’s need for drugs becomes the most important thing in his or her life. The effects of the drug cause massive changes in behaviour that can then impact greatly on relationships with others.
Nothing else will matter to the affected person than the drug and the addict will begin to neglect everything else. This includes school, work, hobbies, activities, responsibilities and even family members and friends. Addiction can cause individuals to become manipulative and selfish. They will do almost anything to get the drug, and if this hurts others along the way, then so be it.
Relationships with family members, friends and work colleagues tend to suffer greatly when one person develops an addiction to drugs. In fact, it is estimated that for every one person who develops an addiction, a further five suffer too because of it.
Family members usually feel the worst effects of drug addiction. They have to watch someone they love suffer while knowing that there is nothing they can do to help. They have to live with this person who has changed before their eyes while often not even knowing what the cause is.
In the early days of addiction, addicts go to great lengths to try to hide what they are doing from those they love. They will not want others to know they have an addiction and so will become secretive and isolate themselves from others. Nevertheless, family members will quickly cotton on to the fact that something is not right, even if they are not sure exactly what it is just yet.
Addiction causes tension in families and can often tear them apart. It is impossible to maintain healthy relationships with others when addiction develops. Most people who have no experience with drugs themselves and have no idea what addiction is like will not understand why others continue to take drugs when doing so causes harm to themselves and those around them. They may be heard saying things like, ‘why can’t she just stop taking drugs?’, or ‘he shouldn’t have taken them in the first place?’.
It is easy to blame the addict for his or her situation without fully understanding the hold that mood-altering chemicals can have over a person. Or without realising how these same drugs can change the way that person’s brain functions. Addicts do not have a choice. Even when they know that taking drugs is going to cause problems for others, they will be unable to fight the urge to use.
The Impact of Drug Addiction on Society
So, who drug addiction affects is a complex issue because although it can be easy to see how it can have a negative impact on the individual and the people around him or her, the other implications it can have may not be so obvious.
The reality is that drug addiction has negative consequences for everyone. Those affected by drug addiction often find themselves in need of medical treatment with their first port of call in the UK being the NHS, which is funded by the taxpayer. Straight away, it is easy to see how drug addiction can have an impact on the economy, and thus every single taxpayer.
However, the impact goes much deeper than that. Drug addiction is linked to poor health, relationship problems, unemployment, crime, homelessness, and premature death. It places a burden on services such as the National Health Service, police forces around the country, and the prosecution service.
Drug addiction can have a devastating impact on entire communities and without treatment, those affected will continue to suffer, as will everyone around them. This is an illness that is often linked to violent crime, and as addictions to illegal drugs continue, the criminal gangs who provide the drugs will flourish. It is important that those affected by addiction can access treatment as and when they need it. Unfortunately, treatment for drug addiction is severely underfunded in the UK, even though with treatment many drug addicts manage to overcome their illnesses for good and go on to become productive members of their communities.
Do You Need Help for Addiction?
If drug addiction is affecting your life, you should know that you do not have to continue living this way. Despite the fact that addiction treatment is underfunded in the UK, there are many options available to you. As well as NHS-run programmes, there are many charities that provide free programmes as well as private clinics that can offer immediate paid-for access to treatment.
If you want to get started on your recovery journey as soon as possible, you may need private treatment as NHS and charity-run programmes tend to have long waiting lists. These programmes are in great demand and often struggle to keep up because of this.
But help is available through private clinics, and the cost may not be as expensive as you might think. If you would like information on the programmes we offer here at Recovery Lighthouse, please call us. We can discuss your situation and will advise you on the best type of programme to suit your requirements. We can give you information on the price of our programmes, depending on what your needs are.
Many of our clients have found that the residential treatment programmes we offer gave them the chance to get clean and sober in the shortest amount of time. Moreover, the cost of treatment quickly pays for itself once they were no longer abusing drugs. Please call today for more information on the benefits of an inpatient treatment programme.