Many people incorrectly assume that those that take drugs are some of the lowest people in society. They fail to comprehend that drug abuse leads to changes in the mind, and even if the person wanted to quit it becomes incredibly difficult to do so. Let’s take a little look at some drug abuse facts, and then a little look at how you can quit drugs.
So what happens when you take drugs?
Well, all drugs contain a chemical which interferes with the way that the brain interacts with the body i.e. the communication system. There are two ways in which this can happen, the most common is changing the circuit of the brain which makes you feel ‘pleasure’ and the second is sending out chemical signals that the brain normally does. For example, in the case of heroin the drugs interfere with nerve cells to send strange messages throughout your body. Other drugs cause an overstimulation in the reward system, for example in the case of cocaine. This causes a euphoric effect within the body which ultimately causes you to feel good about yourself. This ultimately means that you constantly need to take drugs in order to get this ‘reward’.
As the ‘reward’ system of the body changes due to drug abuse, the brain starts to produce less dopamine (as it is used to the surges from the drug taking). This means that the abusers ability to enjoy things which previously brought them pleasure is impaired. The drug user then continues to abuse drugs in order to bring dopamine levels back to normal, but this ultimately means that they take more and more drugs just to get the same effect.
Over time the abuse of drugs completely changes the brain and it may have other effects. For example, the ability to learn or to concentrate can become severely impaired, as well as loss of some other cognitive functions. Decision making becomes impaired and memory functions dwindle.
So what are the symptoms of drug abuse?
Well, the symptoms do vary depending on the type of drug that is being taken. Common signs include the following:
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Taking risks whilst under the effects of drugs (e.g. driving)
- Drugs are getting you into trouble with the police, or perhaps you steal to fuel your habit.
- Relationships have become strained.
- You have a drug tolerance which means you need to take greater quantities of drugs to get your ‘kick’
- You have no control over your drug use.
- You constantly think where your next hit is going to come from
- You constantly take drugs despite knowing it is going to hurt you.
If you are a family member worried that somebody may be abusing drugs then you should be on the lookout for changes in their eyes such as blood shot eyes, sudden weight changes, deterioration of physical appearance, poor bodily hygiene, slurred speech or changes in coordination, changes in attitude and may be suffering from other problems such as changes in friends, financial issues or poor attendance at work or school. Basically, keep an eye out for any changes in a person.
The drug abuse effects aren’t just related to the effects on the body however. Drug abuse can lead to financial problems as you spend every last penny getting the next ‘hit’, and it can even cause problems within the family. Many families have been broken by people that abuse drugs, and it then becomes difficult to get out a hole. Many people believe that at the later stages of drug abuse they have lost everything, and quite often this leads to suicide. For the benefit of everybody it is important that drug addiction treatment is sought sooner rather than later.
There are plenty of methods for drug addiction treatment out there. The key is to find the perfect one for you. Remember, everybody is an individual and a drug abuse treatment which may work for them may not work for another. Therefore it is important to take a little look at the types of drug treatment programs out there. Some people with ‘minor’ addictions can look into day treatment, whilst others would want to look into residential plans. There are different types of therapy out there too.
Let’s discuss a couple of myths about drug treatment. Firstly, overcoming addiction is not a matter of willpower. The brain has been transformed completely and even those with the strongest willpower will be unable to help themselves. However, addiction can be cured, yes, it is a disease but something can be done about it, whether it be therapy, medication or other treatments.
People automatically assume that an abuser has to be at the lowest point before they can accept treatment. This is far from the truth however. In fact, it is better to start treatment as early as possible during drug abuse as this will make the recovery process much easier. Family members should not wait to intervene. And yes, you can force somebody into treatment. It does not need to be voluntary and many people have overcome drug addiction by being forced into treatment. This is because as they sober up they begin to think more clearly about the situation again.
Finally, many people have been treated for drug addiction before, but fail. However, that doesn’t matter, it is not a lose clause and many people find it takes a number of attempts at treatment before they are able to get clean. You just need to take the step to try again until you do succeed.
Remember, if you are suffering from the effects of drug abuse, whether you are the taker or another party then try to look into treatment plans as soon as possible. This honestly will be one of the best decisions that you have ever made.