DR. NEAL HOUSTON

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

WHAT IS DRUG ABUSE & WHY ADDICTION?


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Drug abuse and addiction have negative consequences for individuals and for society. Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States, including productivity, health,  and crime related costs, exceed $600 billion annually


People start taking drugs including alcohol for one or two reasons. Either the drugs are prescribed by a physician to treat some physical or mental disorder, or they are purchased illegally to provide a pleasurable effect, or to avoid or diminish unpleasant feelings or experiences, such as pain.

https://twitter.com/DrNealHoustonWhether or not a drug is addictive varies considerably, not only from drug to drug, but from person to person. Drugs can cause physical dependence, which means that your body gets so used to the drug that your body chemistry is actually changed. When the drug is withdrawn there may be several physical symptoms, which persist until the body adjusts to doing without the drug. Almost all sleeping pills, for example, alter the sleep rhythm so that unless the drug is taken, sleep is disturbed and restless. A drug is usually regarded as causing true physical dependence when it's withdrawal causes a significant degree of discomfort.

Many drugs cause psychological dependence too, in that they produce such pleasurable and satisfying sensations the user feels unable to manage without them and is driven to take the drug again and again. Drugs that are most disruptive to our social structure or alcohol, heroin and other opioids, and cocaine. These cause severe physical and psychological dependence so that the user feels compelled to take them not only to recapture the pleasant feeling but also to avoid physical discomfort.

Many myths surround the use of certain drugs, particularly marijuana and cocaine. These include the incorrect belief that the drugs are not addictive or that they somehow can enhance performance. Recent research proves that such beliefs are false.
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The body eventually build up tolerance to many drugs that cause dependence, so that readily increasing dosages must be taken either to maintain the pleasurable effect of the drug or to prevent any unpleasant ones. If the addict's need for the drug is not satisfied, withdrawal symptoms will result. In some cases the withdrawal symptoms can be harmful, or even fatal, and withdrawal from the drug should be medically supervised.

Who may be at risk?

  • Not everyone who takes an addictive drug, whether for social or medical reasons, becomes dependent on. Formerly there was a theory that genetic differences between people made them more or less likely to become addicted to drugs. Most physicians, mental health professionals, and addiction specialist now believe that drug addiction is much more the result of an interaction between and individual's personality and his or her life circumstances. The escape route may be alcohol or tranquilizers, or in a different age group or culture, cocaine or heroin. Whatever the drug, it provides only a temporary solution to problems, and dependence on the drug increases until it becomes a central part of the individual's life.

What are some of the symptoms?

  • Every type of drug produces its own kind of mental and physical symptoms. In general, any addiction is likely to cause a gradual deterioration of the person's standards of work, personal relationships, or both. The behavior of those dependent on drugs is often erratic and their moods may be changeable, with periods of restlessness and irritability alternating with extreme drowsiness. There is often a loss of appetite, unreasonable fatigue, and surliness. If someone close to you has some of these symptoms, it does not necessarily indicate drug dependence. But if he or she spends increasing amounts of time away from home and seems to be always out of money for no apparent reason, you may have cause for suspecting drug abuse.

What are some of the risks?

  • There are no reliable statistics available on the total number of people dependent on drugs in the United States. This is due in part to the fact that many addicts never receive treatment and continue to obtain their drugs illegally. It has been estimated that approximately two-million Americans have tried heroin at one time. A considerable greater number have tried cocaine. With more than 4 million people using cocaine regularly they are all potential addicts or are addicts. With some drugs, an addict can build up a tolerance for the drug that eventually becomes in your sleep close to a fatal dosage.
  • Apart from the obvious risks to mental health from the effects of the drugs themselves, abuse carries other serious risks. Users of injected drugs often share needles or fail to sterilize them before use and, as a result hepatitis, HIV infection (which is known to cause AIDS), and other blood-borne disorders are common among addicts. The high cost of illegal drugs may lead addicts into crime including prostitution, with a high risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Also, with illegal drugs, there are no controls over the purity or strength of the drug. Drugs may be too pure and us too strong or may be combined with poisonous substances.

What should be done?
  • Anyone who is addicted to a drug needs help, but addicts are unlikely to seek help cells unless they are desperate. If you are concerned about drug abuse in yourself or anyone else, consult your physician, a mental health professional, or a drug counseling center. 
What are some treatment options?
  • Treatment is essentially the same as for alcoholism, especially since many people are addicted to other drugs in addition to alcohol. Self help groups such as Cocaine Anonymous which is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous are also available for those trying to recover from drug dependency.
  • Treatment is a planned, organized intervention to help the person in trouble achieve good physical and mental health and function well without resorting to drug use or alcohol. Comprehensive treatment administered by physicians and other health professionals, usually consist of a complete physical, mental, and psycho-social examination of your emotional health, family situation, and occupational stresses. The treatment team monitors and assists in the withdrawal of the drug or drugs of dependence. Next is dealing with the medical and psychological consequences of past drug use, as well as any related disorders, such as depression. Counseling of patients and family about the nature of addiction and the need to find positive alternatives to using drugs is a high priority.
  • You may be treated as an outpatient or in a hospital, or a combination of both. Treatment depends on the severity of the addiction, the condition of your general health, and the nature of your social support system. Also whether you can get any practical help you need from people who care about you. The length of treatment also varies from person to person. Usually the sooner the addiction is like ghost and intervention takes place, earlier treatment can become pleaded, and the greater the chances for recovery.
  • Both during treatment and in the recovery stage of the addiction, and clearly any periods of relapse, self-help groups can be essential for the patient's progress and well-being. The entire family a need self-help.


Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so. Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs work in the brain than ever, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and lead productive lives.


http://www.drugabuse.gov