Drug Addiction

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What is drug addiction? Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes drug seeking and use, despite the consequences to the individual that is addicted or anyone around them. The changes that occur in the brain over time challenge the individual’s self-control and impulse to use drugs. Drug addiction causes numerous issues with many variables that affect the outcome of this emotional and devastating disease as it pertains to all individuals involved. The decision to take drugs is voluntary, however when drug abuse takes over, the ability to use self-control becomes impaired.

Drug Effect’s on the Body There are many issues of drug addiction that affect the body. Some of these issues are short term issues, and some are long term issues. First let’s discuss some of the short term affects. With the drug cocaine weight loss can be a short term affect, as cocaine temporarily decreases the need for food. When coming down from being “high” on cocaine you can also become irritable. Some physiological effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels; dilated pupils; increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure (Cocaine: Abuse and Addiction, 2010).

Heroine is a drug that many people are addicted to and has short and long term effects. Some short term effects of heroin use are being drowsy for several hours, your cardiac function slows dramatically, also your breathing slows, and this sometimes can cause death. Long term drug abuse impairs brain function. The brain adjusts to the surges of dopamine when using drugs for a long period of time. The impact on that is the brain and the ability to experience pleasure is reduced, therefore the drug abuser wants more of that drug just to try to bring their dopamine function to normal.

As this continues their body builds up a tolerance to the drug. Heroine for example, as the body adapts to it withdraw symptoms occur if the use of it is reduced. Some symptoms of withdraw from heroine are muscle and bone pain, vomiting, and shaking uncontrollably (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012). The withdraw symptoms peak at 24 and 48 hours after your last dose (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010). Heroine can cause infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C. Alcohol is another drug that your body needs daily after using it long term.

If you have been drinking for say 20+ years your kidneys are and will be working in overdrive and will not work as well as they used to. Alcohol abuse can cause certain cancers including mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast. Jaundice may also occur from the liver damage from prolonged alcohol abuse. There are medications that can be used to help your addiction to alcohol such as, antabuse, naltrexone, and campral just to name a few. Emotional effects of people involved There are many emotional effects on the individual and the family/friends of the addict.

An individual addicted can become depressed and withdrawn from their everyday life. They may be embarrassed about their addiction and withdraw themselves from family and friends. An addict may feel that they need the drug to deal with their own problems, which is why they may become addicted. Anxiety can affect the person addicted, when waiting and wondering when they will get their next dose of the drug, many may begin to feel anxious (Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD, 2012). Addict’s emotions can vary while doing and being addicted to drugs.

One minute (usually while high) they can be happy with no care in the world, and the next minute (while coming down from being high) they may be mean and intolerable. Different drugs have different effects, some will bring you up, and some will bring you down. This can make for an emotional roller coaster for the individual. The song Junkie Doll by Mark Knopfler comes to mind, the lyrics say “A little bit of this will get you up, and a little bit of this will get you down”. The family and friends involved with the addict also are affected emotionally.

The bond they once had with the addict may be gone. As the addict withdraws themselves they no longer talk with or spend time with their family and friends. The drugs tend to come first, before anyone or anything else. The family may feel useless to the addict. Take a father/daughter relationship for example with the father being an addict, the daughter may no longer look to her father for advice or encouragement. This can be devastating to her as she once looked to her father for these things.

The things they once did together no longer happen as his priority is the drug. The Emanuel Children’s Healthcare Center has stated that “one out of every 10 children born into a family where drug abuse is present is more likely to become a drug abuser themselves” (Shamiram Badal, MD, 2010). Some of the emotional effects on the family and friends are the same as the individual, a sense of hopelessness, helplessness and somewhat of an embarrassment. Every family deals with addiction differently and has different emotions about it.

Some family members may completely disregard the addict’s problem and just block it out while another family member may put fourth all their effort to help the addict get clean. It is a very stressful situation no matter which way you deal with it. All the worrying you do can cause you to become ill. Treatment and Recovery It is a hard road to recovery and sobriety for all involved. An addicted individual’s recovery process is a long one and may take many years. Treatments are available, tailored to each patients drug abuse patterns.

The individual has to be ready to get clean and start the recovery process. You cannot force an addict into recovery if they are not ready. The likelihood of the addict finishing the recovery process is very slim if they are forced into it and not ready. As seen on the show on the A&E Network Intervention, they do a process to include giving the addict ultimatum’s to get clean. Some times this works and sometimes not. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 40%-60% of people relapse after drug treatment (Volkow, 2010).

Long-term administration of addictive drugs produces alterations in the brain that increase vulnerability to relapse and facilitate craving even months or years after successful detoxification. Factors involved in relapse and craving include acute exposure to the drug or drug-priming, exposure to environmental stimuli previously paired with drug use or conditioned drug cues, and exposure to environmental stressors (American Psychological Association, 6th Edition 2003). The extent of sensitization varies with different drugs and is responsible for responses, craving, and relapse.

Another issue an individual that is an addict has once becoming sober, if they encounter a traumatic event in their lives such as a loved one passing the chance of relapse is high. Some addicts cannot afford to enter a treatment program as it can become very expensive. In this case they will need loved ones support to help them. Once recovered from addiction, the life they live will be tough. They may have to make new friends because many of them may be addicts as well. According to The National Institute of Drug Abuse, “there is something in our brains called conditioning.

For example a person snorting cocaine with a $20 bill, when they see that $20 bill will do the equivalent of salvation, except inside their brain, and what’s going on is their brain in expectation of getting cocaine is releasing dopamine” (Volkow, 2010). This proves that even though being recovered your brain will want the drug when certain things remind you of using the drug. Getting sober takes will power and will be hard, but it can be done. A family’s recovery is hard, but there are many programs out there to help.

Family and friends play an important role in motivating an individual with drug addiction to enter and remain in treatment until sober. However, trying to identify the right treatment programs for a loved one can be a difficult task. Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that “treatment options can vary considerably, and families often don’t know where to begin” (Volkow, 2010). Knowing the process of the addict’s recovery is important so you know what to expect. Being there for the addict for support plays a vital role in the addict’s recovery process.

Once the addict is sober the reintegration process is difficult. The bonds that were broken between the addict and family need to be mended. Once this is done they can get back to the life they lived before the disease of addiction occurred. Drug addiction is a very serious disease that causes many problems not just on the individual involved but everyone involved. There is no cure for addiction but there is hope for managing it. The damages done to the body when addicted to drugs can be life threatening, if treatment is not attainable.

Addiction can tear a family and a friendship apart, and may take some time to get that friendship/relationship back that you once had before addiction took over. The relationship may not be what it used to be. As a family member of one addicted to drugs, being there for support during the recovery process is important. This will help show the addict that you care enough to see them sober and back to normal. Recovery is a long and hard road to travel, but it can be done. Though relapse is very common during recovery, with the help and support of loved ones the road to sobriety is attainable.

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