Drug addiction, is a drug user’s compulsive need to use controlled substances in order to function normally. When such substances are unobtainable, the user suffers from substance withdrawal. Drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment and the law.
Addiction is a primary and chronic disease, with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. It is characterized by behaviors that include one or more of the following:
- compulsive use
- impaired control over drug use
- continued use despite harm
Physical dependence is a state of being that is manifested by a drug class specific withdrawal syndrome that can be produced by abrupt cessation, rapid dose reduction, decreasing blood level of the drug, and/or administration of an antagonist.
Tolerance is the body’s physical adaptation to a drug: greater amounts of the drug are required over time to achieve the initial effect as the body “gets used to” and adapts to the intake.
As with many other conditions and diseases, vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person. Your genes, mental health, family and social environment all play a role in addiction. Risk factors that increase your vulnerability include:
- Family history of addiction
- Abuse, neglect, or other traumatic experiences in childhood
- Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety
- Early use of drugs
- Method of administration, smoking or injecting a drug may increase its addictive potential
The urge to use is so strong that your mind finds many ways to deny or rationalize the addiction. You may drastically underestimate the quantity of drugs you’re taking, how much it impacts your life, and the level of control you have over your drug use.
Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, one that takes tremendous courage and strength. Facing your addiction without minimizing the problem or making excuses can feel frightening and overwhelming, but recovery is within reach. If you’re ready to make a change and willing to seek help, you can overcome your addiction and build a satisfying, drug-free life for yourself.
Don’t try to go it alone, support is essential to addiction recovery; it’s all too easy to get discouraged and rationalize “just one more” hit or pill. Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Recovering from drug addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance.