What is Drug Addiction?
Addiction is a disease that affects your brain and behaviour. When you’re addicted to drugs, you cannot resist the urge to use them, no matter how much harm the drugs may cause. The earlier you get treatment for drug addiction (also called substance use disorder) the more likely you are to avoid some of the more dire consequences of the disease.
Drug addiction isn’t just about heroin, cocaine, or other illegal drugs. You can get addicted to alcohol, nicotine, sleep and anti-anxiety medications, and other legal substances.
According to the 2016 national drug strategy household survey, 15.6% of Australians have used an illicit drug in the last 12 months.
At first, people may choose to take a drug because they like the way it makes them feel. They may think they can control how much and how often they use it. But over time, drugs change how people’s brains work. These physical changes can last a long time. They may make the individual lose control and can lead to damaging behaviours.
Effect on Your Brain
Your brain’s wired to make you want to repeat experiences that make you feel good. So, you’re motivated to do them again and again. The drugs that may be addictive, and targeting your brain’s reward system. They flood your brain with a chemical called dopamine. This triggers a feeling of intense pleasure. You keep taking the drug to chase that high. Over time your brain may get used to the extra dopamine. So, you might need to take more of the drug to get the same good feeling. Which may mean that things that used to give you pleasure or enjoyment such as food, family time or hanging out with friends no longer feel satisfactory.
When you use drugs for a long time, it can cause changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well. They can damage your:
- Ability to learn.
Together, these brain chemicals can drive you to seek out and take drugs in ways that are beyond your control.
Who’s Most Likely to Become Addicted?
Each person’s body and brain are different. People also react differently to drugs. Some love the feeling the first time they try drugs and want more. Others hate it and never try again.
Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. But it can happen to anyone and at any age. Some things that 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 are more likely as well. All genders are equally likely to become addicted.
- Early drug use. Childrens brains are still growing, and drug use can change that. So, taking drugs at an early age may make you more likely to get addicted when you get older.
- Mental disorders. If you’re depressed, have trouble paying attention, or worry constantly, you have a higher change of addiction. You may turn to drugs as a way to try to feel better. A history of trauma in your life also makes you more likely to have an addiction.
- Troubled relationships. If you grew up with family troubles and aren’t close to your parents or siblings, it may raise your chances of addiction.
Signs of Addiction
You may have one or more of these warning signs:
- An urge to use the drug everyday, or many times a day.
- Taking more drugs than you want to, and for longer than you thought you would.
- Always having the drug with you and buying it even if you can’t afford it.
- Using drugs even if they cause you trouble at work or make you lash out and family and friends.
- Spending more time alone
- Not taking care of yourself or caring how you look
- Stealing, lying, or doing dangerous and/or risky things, like driving while high or having unsafe sex
- Spending most of your time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the drug.
- Feeling sick when you try to quit.
Don’t Wait; Get Help Now
Getting better from drug addiction can take time. There is no miracle cure, but treatment can help you stop using drugs and stay drug-free. Your treatment may include counselling or medicine. Let us help you find whatever you need, to over-come and be better.
So if you or someone you know has a drug use that is out of control or causing problems, give us a call at Alegna Solutions Psychology Practice, we can help you get on the path to a better and brighter future without drugs. There is always hope to get clean, we are here to help push you in the right direction.