What is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease characterized by compulsive, uncontrollable drug use, despite harmful consequences. The path to addiction begins with the voluntary act of choosing to use drugs, usually in an experimental or social context.
As time passes, the body becomes accustomed to a certain amount of the substance, and people need to use more to achieve the same effect. This is called developing tolerance. They may also experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when attempting to discontinue drug use.
Over time, the ability to choose not to use becomes compromised, and drug-seeking behavior becomes compulsive. Addiction affects both the brain and a person’s behavior.
Drugs of Abuse
Commonly abused drugs may be illicit or prescription in nature. These include…
- Barbiturates (Mebaral, Luminal, Nembutal)
- Benzodiazepines (Valium, Klonopin, Xanax, Halcion, Prosom)
- Club Drugs (GHB, Rohypnol, ketamine, MDMA (ecstasy))
- Fentanyl (synthetic opioid)
- Hallucinogens (DMT, ayahuasca, LSD, peyote (mescaline), psilocybin (mushrooms))
- Inhalants (solvents, aerosol sprays, gases, nitrates)
- Opioids (oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine)
- Prescription Stimulants (Dexedrine, Adderall, Ritalin)
- Sedative hypnotics (Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata)
- Steroids (Anabolic)
- Synthetic Cannabinoids (Spice)
- Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts)
Signs of Drug Addiction
Specific patterns of behavior may develop in those who have developed an addiction to drugs. Because the effects of each substance will vary – for example, someone who takes stimulants may behave very differently than someone who is on heroin – not all of these may apply. If you notice any of these signs in your loved one, we encourage you to reach out and seek professional help as soon as possible.
Signs of drug addiction include:
- Trying to quit and being unable to
- Seeming scruffy in appearance, having poor hygiene
- Experiencing signs of tolerance and withdrawal
- Having a marked change in personality (seeming easily angered, erratic, or overly calm)
- Prioritizing substance use above all other commitments
- Stealing or lying to get more drugs
- Declining performance at work or school
- Continuing to use in spite of negative consequences
- Spending more and more time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of the drug
- Abandoning hobbies or activities
- Isolating from family and friends
Can Drug Addiction Be Treated?
First, it is important to manage expectations. Addiction is a progressive, chronic disease, which means that merely abstaining from drugs for a few days isn’t enough to “cure” a person. For this reason, it is recommended for patients to pursue long-term care in order to stop using for good.
Successful drug addiction treatment includes several steps. First, those who have misused benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alcohol, and opioids should pursue medically supervised detoxification. This will ensure any uncomfortable or potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms are managed with medication and physician oversight. Next, patients should be evaluated for any co-occurring physical or mental health issues. Once these tests have been completed, treatment should combine behavioral counseling and group sessions in order to uncover the core issues that contribute to one’s drug addiction. Finally, after rehabilitation has concluded, the patient should join local groups and participate in AA and NA meetings for sustained accountability and sobriety.
In summary, to begin a life of recovery, each person must receive an individualized treatment plan that takes into consideration their specific substance use history, physical health concerns, personal history of trauma, and diagnoses of mental illness. Addiction treatment is not “one size fits all,” but regardless of which path to care one chooses, certain requirements do exist. These include…
- Holistic care that addresses all of the patient’s needs (not just drug use)
- Therapy (CBT, DBT, EMDR, MI)
- Medically supervised detoxification, if necessary
- Continually monitored treatment that is modified as needs change
- Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues (anxiety, depression)
- Long-term follow-up treatment to prevent relapse
Drug Addiction Treatment in Arizona
Canyon Crossing focuses on the unique needs of women struggling with drug addiction. Our gender-specific program gives clients the chance to build a supportive network of female friends while exploring the root causes of their addiction. To learn more about our women’s-only recovery program, please contact us today at 1-800-651-7254.