Drug Addiction

Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate based on gender, religion, age, social status or any other reason. It occurs as a result of a complicated range of factors that can creep up and render you powerless. Substance abuse causes your judgment to become clouded, and many people don’t realize they’re addicted until it’s too late. Drug use usually serves some kind of purpose for the addict, such as easing anxiety, diminishing depression or giving them confidence in social situations.

The good news is that with compassionate, professional help, substance use disorders can be overcome. You may feel like there is no way out of your current situation now, but by gaining an understanding of what you’re going through and accepting that you have a problem, you’re taking the first step on the journey to recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug addiction and need help now call (888) 342-3881 or visit our admissions page to learn more about how to get started. 

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Learning how to spot the signs and symptoms of addiction — also known as a substance use disorder — is important if you’re a family member worried about a loved one, as well as if you’re suffering yourself. Everybody experiences this condition differently, and each drug has its own set of effects to look out for. There are some common signs to pay attention to as well as symptoms that are commonly seen in people going through addiction. Some of these include:

Physical

  • Pinpoint or dilated pupils
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Unusual earthy or burning smells
  • Lack of regard for appearance or hygiene
  • Track marks
  • Burns on fingers
  • Chapped or cracked lips
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Poor balance
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Shaking

Psychological

  • Getting into trouble for poor performance at work or school
  • Frequent disagreements with loved ones
  • Becoming secretive or significantly changing behavior
  • Financial issues such as excessive borrowing, debt or stealing
  • Shifts in attitude and personality
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lethargy or a lack of motivation
  • Periods of hyperactivity, unusual speech patterns or agitation

How Addiction Affects the Brain

Each drug affects your brain differently. The cycle of addiction alters the way your brain functions, which is what makes stopping by yourself particularly difficult. The safest way to overcome this fraught condition is under the care of specialists in a rehab clinic. Some of the reasons why trying to stop using drugs alone is so difficult are:

  • Using drugs causes the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation and reward, dopamine, to be released in the brain. This triggers feelings of pleasure, which your brain stores and encourages you to repeat in the future. To the drug user, this is experienced as a craving.
  • Dopamine is partially responsible for the pleasure we feel when eating or drinking. Once you’re addicted, your brain makes you crave substances in the same way you crave foods when you’re hungry.
  • These changes in your brain cause you to fundamentally prioritize pursuing and taking drugs. Aspects of life we take for granted, such as exercising good judgment, controlling your behavior and thinking, become much more challenging.
  • The more you take the drug, no matter which one it is, the stronger the cravings grow and the more normalized they become in your mind. Priorities such as your career, friends, family and health and happiness become less and less important.
  • Your urges to use substances become so strong that you find ways of rationalizing the addiction and denying that it’s a problem. Addicts usually underestimate how much they’re taking and deceive themselves and their loved ones about the impact it’s having on their lives.

What Makes Drugs Addictive?

Opiates

Opiates are depressants of the central nervous system, but they cause such a pronounced effect that they fall into their own category. Drugs such as heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine imitate endorphins, which are responsible for happiness and mask pain. When taken in recreational quantities, they can cause intense feelings of well-being and euphoria, making them dangerously addictive.

Depressants

Other central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, sleeping pills and cannabis slow down the messages sent between your brain and body. This can be very addictive because it counteracts feelings of anxiety and worries while promoting sleepiness. People who struggle with mental illness or insomnia are at a particularly high risk of developing an addiction to central nervous system depressants.

Stimulants

Stimulants, including cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth, ecstasy and amphetamines, speed up the messages sent between your brain and body. This causes an influx or rush of neurotransmitters that makes people feel more confident, chatty, intense and euphoric. Stimulants are addictive because they cause dopamine and serotonin to surge. For some people, the intensely pleasurable feelings and confidence they feel in social settings can be irresistible.

Treatment for Drug Addiction

Quitting drugs when you’re addicted isn’t straightforward. Going it alone can be dangerous in some cases and isn’t advisable. Seeking the guidance and care of addiction specialists in a professional drug rehab setting is the best way to begin the healing process. Together with a team of dedicated staff and ready-made peer support networks, you can learn how to address the causes of your affliction and find new coping strategies within a safe, structured environment.

For more information on how you can overcome substance use disorders, call Recovery at the Crossroads at 888-342-3881. Our Blackwood, New Jersey Center offers comprehensive Jewish rehab programs, including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and general outpatient with a specialization Kosher recovery services for the Jewish community.