Drug addiction is a complicated problem that few individuals actually understand. Even those individuals who suffer from addiction problems rarely recognize these problems for what they are, and therefore fail to get the help they need to put an end to a dangerous lifestyle. Some people believe that if they are functioning somewhat normally in their life, they cannot possibly be addicted to drugs. Other people believe that regular drug use is necessary for their daily survival, as drugs help to eliminate pain or discomfort. What these individuals fail to recognize is that drugs do not solve problems or bring about normal functioning; they always adversely affect the individual and over time their effects can grow steadily worse.
About Drug Use and Addiction
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are over twenty-three million Americans who suffer from drug abuse and addiction problems. These individuals were not strapped down and forced to take drugs against their will and despite knowing all the dangers posed by these drugs, they made a choice to use drugs because they thought they would be helpful in some way. This is their first big error. Drugs are chemical substances that interfere with the normal functions of the human body, primarily the brain, by imitating normal neural messengers or over stimulating the normal production of these natural neural messengers. The result is a pleasurable sensation that, albeit only temporary in nature, gives the individual some relief from their problems. Drug use can also produce undesirable side effects, but the individual who decides that the pleasant side effects are well worth the undesirable side effects will often ignore the latter and continue taking drug substances.
It can sometimes be difficult to make the right decisions in one’s life, and it is not unusual or abnormal for individuals to make mistakes. That said, individuals who receive all of the factual information about something are usually able to make the wisest choices in regards to that thing. The information that an individual lacks when they choose to continue using drugs is that drug use will steadily deteriorate their physical, mental and emotional health and eventually make it impossible for them to operate normally. Because drugs are chemical substances, their use burns up valuable vitamins and minerals that the body needs in order to function well. This means that when an individual comes down off a drug high, they are returned to a slightly lower state of normal than they experienced before they took drugs. Unfortunately, the difference is so subtle as to be undetectable to the individual himself. Not only does the individual fail to take the necessary actions to replace these important vitamins and minerals, he often turns back to drug use and burns even more of these vital resources. Considering that his starting point was slightly lower this time, his drug high is also slightly lower than before. Again, the difference is so subtle as to be undetectable to the individual himself. When drugs wear off, the individual sinks to an even lower “normal”, and so the cycle continues. Eventually, the individual’s highest drug high fails to boost them up to the level of normal they had experienced prior to their initial drug use. Furthermore, their body will have become tolerant of drug substances, and the individual no longer experiences the same desirable sensations as a result of drug use. This is quite an obvious condition to the individual, but he doesn’t usually understand why or how this is occurring. He may only recall that drugs once gave him pleasurable sensations, and he will usually increase the amount of drugs he takes in an effort to stimulate these pleasurable sensations.
The cycle of drug tolerance is itself extremely dangerous. Every time the individual becomes tolerant of a certain amount and type of drug substance, he is driven to either increase his drug dose, switch to a more potent drug substance or even mix more than one drug substance together. This greatly increases their risk of overdose-related complications, including coma and death.
Drug dependence is the condition wherein an individual’s body has grown to depend upon drug substances in order to function normally. Drug dependence and drug addiction usually go hand-in-hand, as the former condition drives the individual to maintain a certain level of drug substances in their body at all times, and the latter condition is a compulsive use of drug substances despite an awareness of the many damaging effects these substances are having on the individual’s health and life. An individual who is drug dependent and drug addicted may wake in the morning feeling very ill, weak and tired. This is actually their new normal condition – they have disrupted the body’s functions and burned off important vitamins and minerals to such an extent that the body feels terrible on a regular basis. Any sober individual who awoke in such a condition would be alert to the fact that something was terribly wrong with their body and they would seek immediate medical attention. A drug addict, however, has been using drug substances as solutions for so long that they simply start their day, every day, with these substances. At this point in the process the individual rarely experiences any pleasurable sensations as a result of their drug use, they only experience a temporary alleviation of the unpleasant physical sensations caused by a very ill body.
When an individual is suffering from drug dependence and addiction problems, everything is about drugs. From the moment they wake up in the morning until the moment they fall into sleep at night, their every thought and action revolves around obtaining and using more drug substances. Some drug addicts may be able to hide their problems fairly well, and may still appear to be functioning somewhat normally in their life as they head off to work or school, but they are suffering terribly and often feel that their life is entirely out of their control. Because the drive to continue using drug substances is so overpowering and strong, the individual is often willing to do anything to obtain more drugs, even if it means selling off all their possessions or lying to and stealing from others, including close friends and family members. There may be some point in the process where the individual recognizes that drugs have taken over their life, and they may wish desperately to be free from drug use, but it can seem entirely impossible. The simple fact that the individual cannot take back control of his own life and put an end to his drug use can cause him to feel ashamed and embarrassed, withdrawing further into his problems.
Despite the fact that many drug addicts feel completely overwhelmed by their drug problems, and even certain that freedom from drugs is unobtainable, the fact is that drug addiction problems can be entirely and permanently resolved. The individual himself must take responsibility for his past and future choices and actions, but with the right support, encouragement and treatment he can take back control of his life, repair the damages caused by drug use and lay the foundation for a drug-free future.