Drug addiction is a serious illness that affects millions of Americans. If you are one of those millions, or if someone you love shows signs of addiction, reach out for help before it’s too late. You may be someone who just can’t understand how you got into addiction, or you may want to help a friend or family member but you don’t know what to do. Understanding some of the possible causes for abuse, which can lead to addiction, and the effects of addiction on your body can help you move forward in seeking help. What Leads to Addiction?
Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease with many possible factors – psychological, biological and social – that can increase the risk of addiction. These factors include: * The lack of a healthy, nurturing home environment or the presence of a chaotic lifestyle in childhood has been shown to increase the use of drugs as users seek to obtain a feeling of acceptance and importance. * Influences and activities outside the home environment include inappropriate classroom behavior and association with peers involved in the use of drugs. * Genetics are recognized by many healthcare professionals as a valid cause of substance abuse. * The medicines used to treat medical conditions with pain management or medications for mental diseases can lead to a dependence, abuse and ultimately to addiction. The Effects of Drug Addiction
Drug addiction, regardless of the types of drug used, has social, psychological and physical effects, such as: * Changes in the structure and function of your brain from drug abuse make it impossible to safely stop using without professional intervention. If you are abusing any drug, whether prescription or illegal, your brain has adapted to its presence. Your body perceives a normal that is established by the dependence on the drug. * Physical effects of drug addiction, depending on the drug, but can include heart rhythm irregularities and heart attacks; breathing difficulties and respiratory arrest; nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain; poor musculoskeletal development, cramping and muscle weakness; kidney and liver damage; seizures and memory loss; and cancer. * Psychological effects can include depression, hallucinations, paranoia and aggression. If left untreated or if the condition gets out of control, any of these effects can lead to death. * Social effects are often noticed by family and friends of someone addicted to drugs. If you recognize a change in aggressiveness, selfishness, lying or a lack of interest in usual activities, you may be observing or experiencing the results of drug addiction.
When a person is intoxicated with drugs, it’s easy to understand the power of those drugs. They cause changes that the person can feel, right now. Nothing truly is the same for that person while the drugs are working their way through the person’s system. But when the short-term effects of that drug use have worn away, the person’s body doesn’t truly return to “normal.” In fact, drug use can cause serious and long-lasting damage to a variety of systems in the body, and that damage can persist long after the drug’s effects have worn off.
Many drugs, including heroin, cocaine and marijuana, utilize a specific pathway in the brain in order to do their work. When a person takes these drugs, the brain becomes slightly confused, and it mistakenly believes that the drugs are variations of dopamine, a chemical the brain uses to alert the body that a reward is on the way. Some drugs encourage the body to produce more dopamine than it normally would. Other drugs encourage the body to enthusiastically respond to any dopamine it has. Over time, the body adjusts by producing less of its own dopamine, or it may even shut down some dopamine receptors altogether. When the drugs are removed, the body must reverse all of these steps and learn to create and/or process its own dopamine. As a consequence, the...