Drug Addiction

1 What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction or drug use disorder refers to the abusive pattern of using a drug that cause significant health and social problems, and distress for the patient. Tolerance to the drug or withdrawal from the substance are characteristic of drug addiction.

Once the addiction sets in it is difficult to control the use of the drug, and one might continue its use even after knowing about the serious consequences. Person may develop an intense urge for the substance. Despite the planning to avoid its use, they find it difficult to stop the abuse.

Drug use disorder causes long-term health issues apart from social distress.

A well-drawn plan is needed to help the patient resolve the problem.

2 Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of any drug addiction are:

  • Need to use the drug regularly
  • Need of a higher dose to get the same effect
  • Maintaining a supply of drug for later use
  • Drug abuse affects performance at school and work
  • Less time spent on social activities and hobbies
  • Planning and failing to limit the use of drug
  • Withdrawal symptoms when dose is reduced or when it is stopped

Drug addiction can be recognized by the problems faced by the person in work or school. They often do not have any particular interest in their appearance. They also tend to keep themselves aloof from others.

The extent of drug addiction varies with the type of drug. Some drugs may cause dependence much more rapidly than others. As time progresses, one tends to develop tolerance to a certain level of drug, so much so that they will need a higher dose to feel the same.Dependence on the drug increases and it becomes difficult to thrive without the drug.

Stopping the drug or reducing the regular amounts may result in withdrawal symptoms.

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3 Causes

Drug addiction is caused by several factors, including genetic and environment.

Use of drug is seen to influence the way brain feels pleasure. With continued use, the negative feelings about the drug reduces, and also affects the ability to control his/her behavior.

The impaired brain gives a message of good feeling during drug consumption.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Diagnosis of drug addiction is usually done by a physician, and once confirmed of drug use disorder, recommend a mental health provider for further treatment.

Diagnosis is usually based on the responses of the patient to questions related to his/her habit of drug use.

The doctor may also seek information from close family members and friends regarding the same. Some physical signs may also indicate this disorder.

No specific lab tests or imaging techniques are available for confirmation of its diagnosis. Psychological evaluation can reveal a lot about the behavioral problems and issues in the patient.

5 Treatment

Drug addiction can be treated by:

  • Detoxification – detoxification or withdrawal therapy is the first step in the treatment of this disorder. The patient is made to stop the addictive drug as early as possible. Side effects of different drugs are different and may need varied approach. In this step the dose of the addictive drug is reduced gradually. In some cases, the drug is temporarily replaced by another substance.
  • Treating withdrawal symptoms – sedative medications are given to control withdrawal symptoms, particularly during detoxification stage.
  • Psychological counselling – counselling helps to understand the disorder and the options better. It is also helpful in recovering from the mental aspects of the disorder. A number of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety is often associated with drug addiction. Counselling can help to control these as well.

6 Prevention

Drug addiction can be completely prevented. Prevention programs through families, communities, schools and colleges are effective.

The basic fact for prevention is for the high-risk group to understand that drug addiction is harmful.

Thus education and outreach are very important steps in preventing this disorder.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Alternative and homeopathic remedies used for drug addiction are:

  • Nux vomica is suggested in homeopathy to reduce chronic chemical dependency.
  • Avena sativa is the recommended option for detoxification of several drugs.
  • Natrum mur helps to control the mental issues associated with drug addiction.
  • Ibogaine, the root bark of an African shrub is used in the treatment of opiate addiction.
  • Meditation is useful in preventing relapse and to manage mood swings.
  • Biochemical restoration helps to repair biochemical imbalances.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Support groups are ideal for coping with drug addiction and to deal with recurrences. They also help to remain sober, even when the urge is high.

Developing a healthy lifestyle with less stress, good exercise habits and healthy food helps to remain sober.

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with drug addiction.

Many drugs cause long-term health issues, sedation, confusion and even memory loss.

High doses of certain drugs may result in seizures and coma. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance is also seen as complication.

As many of the drugs are toxic, some may result in brain damage.

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