Drug Addiction & Treatment For Drug Abuse
There a two main categories of drug addiction, the abuse of illicit drugs and the overuse of legally prescribed drugs.
Illicit & Street Drug Addiction
Any illegal drug consumption risks chemical dependency. The amount of substance abused, as the type of illegal drug used, and various risk factors involved will all determine whether an individual risks addiction. Sometimes social use stems from curiosity and depending on the potency of the drug, can lead quickly to dependence.
Certain street drugs like heroin and meth act by flooding the brain with feel-good endorphins. As the brain continues to be exposed to these drugs, it begins to produce less dopamine and other mood-effecting chemicals. The damage is permanent, as heroin destroys normal brain chemical balance, and users will begin to experience pain when it leaves the system. For this reason, illicit drug addiction can often occur quickly, even after a short period of use. The amount needed to obtain the same high increases with every use, as do the withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction To Prescribed Drugs
One of the most disturbing, and fastest growing addictions nationwide involve prescription pain medications. Most individuals with no addiction history and few addiction risk factors can safely use prescribed doses of narcotic pain medications. This group of people is probably unlikely to become addicted and misuse these powerful drugs. But there are individuals for whom even a limited exposure to opioids can trigger addictive tendencies. Most prescribed pain medications such as morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and oxycodone are very concentrated and taken in higher doses will cause an intoxicating high.
Another reason individuals might become dependent on opioids is the resulting anxiety relief that occurs when taken regularly. This can be an attractive escape for certain people looking for a way to avoid the stresses of productive adulthood. Prescription drug misuse, or narcotic abuse, is one of the most prevalent addictions currently in the United States.
Symptoms Of Narcotic Addiction
When people with no history of drug addiction appropriately use narcotics at prescribed doses to control pain, they are relatively unlikely to become addicted to the drugs. However, opioids provide an intoxicating high when injected or taken orally in high doses. Opioids are also powerful anxiety relievers. Additionally, in people with no history of addiction who take opiates for chronic pain, studies have not found clear-cut predictors of who is more or less likely to eventually abuse their painkillers. For these reasons, narcotic abuse is one of the most common forms of drug abuse in the U.S.
The abuse of prescription pain medication is often overlooked as there isn’t much of a negative stigma when taking Vicodin or morphine for diagnosed pain control. The misnomer that prescriptions are safer than street drugs is also one of the reasons many addictions go undiagnosed or even recognized. The following is a list of symptoms that point to possible narcotic addiction:
- An uncontrollable urge to use opioids
- An inability to curb or cease opioid use
- Increased difficulty performing well academically or occupationally
- Withdrawal from social circles due to conflicts
- Sudden legal issues stemming from drug seeking
- Consumed with planning and sourcing opioid use
- Withdrawal symptoms when reducing amounts
- Increasing tolerance resulting in increased dosing