Drug addiction is a serious condition marked by compulsivity to seek out and use drugs despite a mounting pile of reasons as to why doing so is not in the user’s best interest.
Individuals afflicted with a drug addiction have acquired a tolerance to drugs, requiring increasingly high doses to feel the same effects. Also, drug addicts experience withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of drug use.
Drug Abuser Versus Addict
There is a difference between a drug abuser and a drug addict. The hypothetical drug abuser may binge on mind-altering substances on a typical Friday night, for example. This drug abuser hardly ever experiences withdrawal symptoms or seeks out drugs as a result of a driving, physical impetus to do so. Drug abusers generally experiment with drugs occasionally, eluding the grips of an addiction. On the contrary, drug addicts have virtually no control over when and if they will use drugs again. The logical portion of the drug addict’s brain becomes overtaken by the addictive side of the brain, influenced by the drug’s capacity to shift a person’s judgment from both a physical and mental perspective.
In a nutshell, drug abusers are fully cognizant of their actions and endure drug addiction risks
by choice. For the drug abuser, when and if they abuse drugs is a byproduct of their rational and cognitive ability to process a decision.
Drug addiction wreaks havoc on an addict’s body. Not only is the illness of drug addiction psychologically debilitating, it is physically draining as well. Specific health consequences as a result of drug addiction vary depending on the type of drug, frequency of use and length of time spent using drugs.
A drug addict who is addicted to inhalants undertakes serious risks with every inhale. Toxic chemicals and fumes enter the bloodstream and the lungs. Throughout the inhalation process, nerve cells can be permanently damaged, in both the brain and peripheral nervous system. Approximately 30 percent of individuals who inhale toxic chemicals — such as “Dust-Off,” a computer duster aerosol spray — die instantly.
Marijuana, Crack and Methamphetamine
When smoking marijuana, crack and/or methamphetamine, users undertake a series of risks. Inhaling chemicals into the lungs raises the user’s risk of lung cancer. In addition, addicts risk an increased chance of stroke, cardiac arrest and mouth cancer. Essentially, any drug that is smoked immediately creates the possibility of lung damage.
Drug addicts find that they cannot stop using drugs, regardless of how many times a family member or friend tells them that the drugs are destroying their bodies. Knowledge of the health consequences of a drug addiction is useful in the prevention of drug addiction for the drug-free members of society. For those in whom addiction has already grown as a living, breathing entity within their bodies, education on health effects of drug addiction may be less poignant, as a byproduct of the insidious and illogical nature of addiction. However, education on drug addiction’s damaging effects, across the board, is a preventative measure that cannot be discounted. It also may help incline an active drug addict to seek drug treatment at the request of family members and friends.
Effects in the General Sense
Whether a drug addict’s drug of choice is LSD, cocaine, PCP or a different type of drug, the user is enduring detrimental effects upon his or her body. For instance, prolonged use of cocaine can cause seizures, psychosis and heart failure. Prescription narcotics such as benzodiazepines and opiates can lead to respiratory depression, constipation, depression, anxiety, seizures, unpredictable behavior and circulatory problems. For individuals addicted to methamphetamine, long-term health effects include “meth mouth” which is marked by dental decay and damage, hallucinations, delirium, high blood pressure, emaciation as a byproduct of malnutrition and many other devastating effects.
Of paramount intensity is the crushing impact drug addiction takes on the addict’s psyche. Psychologically, drug addiction is damaging in many ways. Compound the physical ramifications of a drug addiction with the psychological ramifications and herein lies a recipe for devastation.
Regardless of the type of drug the user is addicted to, similar characteristics are inherent across the board of drug addictions which normally needs a dual diagnosis rehab
- Low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and a distorted self-image
- Regret, guilt and shame
- Experiencing a loss of control or feeling as though will-power is lost to the addict
- Feeling morally corrupt and deviant
- Self-centeredness, which is a separate phenomenon as compared to selfishness
- Difficulty dealing with one’s emotions
- Reticence in reaching out for help, for fear of being judged or reprimanded
A lack of personal hygiene tends to accompany a drug addiction. Thus, family members may grow concerned after noticing their loved one has stopped brushing his teeth or combing his hair. A once fashion-conscious daughter now recycles the same outfit on a daily basis and chooses drugs over food. Failure to maintain personal hygiene can result in dental damage, brittle hair, dry skin, intestinal problems, constipation, malnutrition and other health complications.
Hope for Addicts and Their Family Members
Psychologically and physically, drug addiction wears a person down within a relatively short period of time. Thankfully, treatment options are available. Drug addicts feel a perpetual source of emptiness – an inner void that cannot be filled. Reaching for external solutions such as drugs represents a short-term solution to a long-term problem. In the majority of cases, a co-occurring mental disorder plays a part in both the substance abuse problem and the underlying feelings associated with the addiction. Thus, seeking treatment at a facility that understands and treats dual diagnosis patients is imperative. Studies reveal that drug treatment programs do work.
Although relapse is often an integral component in the road to long-term sobriety, a working knowledge of the 12 steps, management of co-occurring disorders through professional intervention and a comprehensive aftercare plan are all sustainable tools addicts benefit from by attending a rehabilitation center for drug addiction.