What Is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is a disease that affects your brain and behaviour. When you’re addicted to drugs, you can’t resist the urge to use them, no matter how much harm the drugs may cause to you and those around you.
Drug addiction isn’t about just heroin, cocaine, or other illegal drugs. You can get addicted to alcohol, nicotine, opioid painkillers, and other legal substances.
Drug addiction is a complex neurobiological disease that requires integrated treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain structure and how it works.
Individuals struggling with drug addiction often feel as though they cannot function normally without their drug of choice. This can lead to a wide range of issues that impact professional goals, personal relationships, and overall health. Over time, these serious side-effects can be progressive, and if left untreated, sometimes fatal.
Addiction vs. Abuse
Drug abuse is when you use legal or illegal substances in ways you shouldn’t. You may abuse drugs to feel good, ease stress, or avoid reality. However, usually, you’re able to change your unhealthy habits or stop using altogether.
Addiction is when you can’t stop. Not when it puts your health in danger. Not when it causes financial, emotional, and other problems for you or your loved ones. That urge to get and use drugs can fill up every minute of the day, even if you want to quit.
Addiction and Your Brain
The drugs that may be addictive target your brain’s reward system. They flood your brain with a chemical called dopamine. This triggers a feeling of intense pleasure. So you keep taking the drug to chase that high.
Over time, your brain gets used to the extra dopamine. So you might need to take more of the drug to get the same good feeling. Other things you enjoyed, like food and hanging out with family, may give you less pleasure.
Who is Most Likely to Become Addicted?
Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted to them. But it can happen to anyone and at any age. Some things may raise your chances of addiction, including:
- Family history. Your genes are responsible for about half of your odds. If your parents or siblings have problems with alcohol or drugs, you’re more likely to as well. Women and men are equally likely to become addicted.
- Early drug use. Children’s brains are still growing, and drug use can change that. Taking drugs at an early age may make you more likely to become addicted as you get older.
Signs of Addiction
You may have one or more of these warning signs:
- An urge to use the drug every day or many times a day.
- You take more drugs than you want to and for longer than you thought you would.
- You always have the drug with you, and you buy it even if you can’t afford it.
- You keep using drugs even if it causes you trouble at work or makes you lash out at family and friends.
- You spend more time alone.
- You don’t take care of yourself or care how you look.
- You steal, lie, or do dangerous things like driving while high or have unsafe sex.
- You spend most of your time getting, using or recovering from the effects of the drug.
- You feel sick when you try to quit.
There is no cure for addiction, but people can and do recover, if you or a loved one need assistance – know that help is readily available. The road to recovery is not always an easy one but getting yourself or your loved one the best care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centre, provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it is a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sex, gambling, substances, alcohol or food, please contact us for a free assessment.
Stories of Recovery
- The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.Oliver VGRead more
- On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.Johan BRead more
- I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!Carla SRead more
- "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."Angelique JRead more