Drug addiction is a disease that few addicts can recover from on their own. Many drugs, both prescription drugs and illegal ones, alter the way that the brain functions and are notorious for being nearly impossible to withdraw from without medical intervention. Many behavioral and lifestyle changes can take place when an individual turns to drugs. It is vital that the physical addiction and patterns of abuse are dealt with sooner, rather than later. Drug addiction can be defined as, the moment when an individual engaging in substance abuse can no longer go without using or has become powerless to a drug. The desire to use eventually consumes them, causing a continuous cycle of drug use and drug cravings. The prevalence of drug use in the United States displays just how normalized drugs and the use of drugs has become in our society. In 2013, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that drug use was highest in younger individuals between the ages of 18 to 22 years old, with over 20% admitting to the use of illicit drugs within the past month. Oftentimes, many individuals fail to consider the risks of drug use, which can quickly lead to drug addiction in young adults.
The signs of addiction vary from drug to drug, but social signs tend to be more obvious. Some of these signs include, retreating from normal everyday activities, a shift in one’s social circle, and a primary focus on one’s drug of choice. An addict may become irritable or distracted if they are coming down from a drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported that in 2013, over 24 million Americans had used an illicit drug within the past month of the study. Drugs that are more common in the public can have different effects and levels of addiction. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug and its’ use is only becoming more habitual. That being said, marijuana is still considered the gateway drug to other, more addictive substances, such as cocaine, heroin and crystal meth.
Illegal drug use comes with risks that are directly and indirectly related to drug addiction. Street drugs such as heroin, meth and crack are usually garnered through illegal means. Addiction is an illness that individuals rarely have control over, causing addicts to make behavioral choices they normally would not have in a sober state of mind. When purchasing an illegal street drug, an individual may not be given exactly what they requested. Street drugs are often laced with other substances that can heighten the high, but also cause longstanding damages to the body. Long term addiction leads to health risks because over time, the drug’s effects takes a toll on the body, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, many addicts are too fixated on their drug of choice to even consider the negative impacts it is having on their heath. Drugs can cloud a person’s judgement and make using the only priority visible to them in their future.
Drug addiction treatment must focus on each individual patient’s needs, as well as the type of drug that they are withdrawing from. The first step to treating a drug addiction is detox. Until the body has been released from its physical dependence of a drug, mental and emotional healing cannot begin. When it comes to drug addiction, a great deal of attention for rehabilitation must be on relapse prevention and aftercare services. Many times people that are addicted to illegal drugs will need to start over in numerous areas of their life. Though the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) praises intervention models and therapy techniques in treatment, they reported that over 50% of recovering addicts will relapse at least once. It is still important to keep in mind that the only way for most illegal drug users to beat addiction, is to enter a treatment program that focuses on intense aftercare and support for those who are at risk for relapse.
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