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Drug Addictions and Dependency

    Drug Addictions and Dependency

    Various types of drug addictions mean an individual has developed a physical as well as psychological dependence to a substance. This means that the addict needs a drug in the same way they need food and water.

    Because of this dependence, they will experience physical withdrawal symptoms that resemble an illness if they cannot get access to the drugs they are addicted to.

    Drug addiction is the chronic inability to stop using drugs even if they are causing harm to oneself or others. One of the leading causes of death is overdose by prescription medication, which is caused by the build-up of tolerance from overuse.

    People usually start out taking the prescribed amount of drugs, but then they become dependent on it to make them feel a certain way, and that dependence leads to addiction.

    Therefore, recovering from drug dependency normally involves drug detox followed by rehab and other types of addiction treatment and addiction counselling.

    Examples of Drug Addictions We Treat

    At Rehab Recovery, our excellent doctors, nurses and counsellors have years of experience in helping sufferers overcome their addiction to a variety of substances. Below is a table which covers all of the drug rehabilitation programmes we offer:

    Amphetamines Anabolic Steroids Benzodiazepines
    Cocaine Codeine Crack Cocaine
    Crystal Meth Ecstasy Fentanyl
    GHB Heroin Ice
    Inhalants Ketamine LSD
    Marijuana Meow Meow Methadone
    Pain Medication PCP Prescription Drugs

    If you are worried that you or someone you know may be in the grip of a drug or any other type of addiction, give us a call today in complete confidence. We offer free guidance and advice on helping addiction sufferers into treatment and working together towards a happy and healthy life.

    Do I Have a Drug Addiction?

    There are eleven official criteria for diagnosing drug addiction. So we have pulled sections from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

    The manual requires that you have at least two of these symptoms for longer than twelve months:

    1. Inability to stop using drugs
    2. Taking more drugs at a time or more often
    3. Drug cravings
    4. An excessive amount of time dedicated to obtaining drugs, using them, and recovering
    5. Replacing social activities with drug use
    6. Repeatedly using drugs in dangerous situations
    7. Continuing drug use even after it impacts performance
    8. Using drugs despite knowing it is ruining relationships
    9. Failure to consistently attend to obligations as a result of drug abuse
    10. Built-up drug tolerance
    11. Drug withdrawal symptoms when the drug wears off

    The Progression of Drug Addictions

    Although there are some risk factors associated with developing drug dependence, anyone can become addicted. The majority of drug addictions begins with prescriptions for pain relief or other medications. This is because they create a sense of comfort and sometimes euphoria that feels good.

    Over time the body produces a tolerance so that it takes more and more of the drug before that same desired effect is achieved. This is how social drug use is another common starting point for addiction.

    Dependence becomes an addiction when the thoughts about the drug and how to get or use the drug consume all other needs. This means that social and economic stability begins to crumble as relationships fail, and things like work and personal health are overshadowed by the constant need to take the drug.

    Drug Addictions and the Brain

    No matter what substance is being taken, the brain will be changed by it. Because of this, some changes may be permanent, long-term, or only partially reversible by the time addiction sets in. The brain rewires itself to need the drug.

    Harvard University reported findings that indicated “increased levels of a neuroplasticity protein, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf), drive goal-oriented behaviour in addicts.”

    As a result, the following list includes some of the most common reactions in the brain when the addictive substance is consumed.

    • Dopamine release (a strong feeling of pleasure)
    • Uncontrollable craving for the drug
    • Inability to focus or feel in control unless taking the drug
    • A sense that life may end without access to the drug

    Signs of Drug Use

    Each individual is different and sometimes the signs can be mistaken for other issues. Because of this, if you are concerned about approaching or addressing your loved one about their suspicious behaviour, visit our intervention page.

    Below is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms that could indicate drug use or addiction.

    1. Psychological Symptoms

    Have you noticed any of the following psychological changes in your loved one?

    • Sudden mood and personality shifts including experiencing outbursts, agitation, or appearing overly happy
    • Looking vacant, listless, or sluggish
    • Paranoia
    • Unusual fear or anxiety responses to everyday situations

    2. Behavioural and Social Symptoms

    The following points could indicate that addiction is taking hold of your loved one on a behavioural and social level:

    • Unexplained and sudden change in attendance or performance
    • Financial difficulties including stealing or routinely borrowing money
    • Acting suspicious and gathering with new peer groups
    • Fighting, experiencing legal issues
    • Repeated accidents

    3. Physical Symptoms

    Physical symptoms can often be the most alarming and obvious signs of drug use. These include:

    • Hygiene deteriorating along with unusual scents on their body or clothes
    • Weight loss or gain accompanied by sudden appetite change
    • Bloodshot eyes and pupils expanding or retracting unusually
    • Body tremors slurred talking, lack of focus and body coordination

    Causes of Drug Problems

    Drug addictions have been around since the beginning of recorded history, but scientists still are not certain why some people develop addictions, and others do not. However, they are now certain both genetics and environmental factors play roles.

    1. Genetics

    Certain genes have been linked to addiction. Also, drug use during pregnancy has been shown to lead to higher rates of addiction in the baby. Having one or both parents experiencing addiction may indicate a higher chance of genetic predisposition.

    2. Environment

    Being raised in an environment that involved substance abuse and other forms of child abuse are risk factors in the possibility of drug dependency later in life.

    Furthermore, being around peer groups who consume drugs, experience financial difficulties, and being involved in a traumatic event are all environmental factors that can make someone more susceptible to drug addictions.

    3. Risk Factors for Addiction

    Anyone who routinely takes an addictive substance can become an addict regardless of what the drug is and their personal history. Therefore, some risk factors that make it more likely include the following:

    • Personal or family history of addiction
    • Having access to pain medications (either due to injury, through work or some other means)
    • Repeatedly witnessing traumatic events (e.g., doctors, soldiers, and EMTs)
    • Experiencing physical or sexual abuse
    • Depression

    The Dangers of Drug Addictions

    Here are a few negative ways that addiction can change someone’s life:

    • Drug addicts are more likely to get diseases like HIV by sharing needles or partaking in unsafe sexual acts
    • Mental and physical health are both impacted by addiction, which can lead to mental illness and damaged organs
    • Being under the influence makes you much more likely to be involved in a dangerous accident
    • An increase in suicide and self-harm tendencies
    • Social, personal, school, and relationship issues related to mood changes and irresponsibility due to the addiction
    • Financial and legal problems

    Warning Signs of Common Illicit Drug Use

    Have you noticed changes in the behaviour or appearance of a loved one? Are you unsure if your instincts are correct? Because of the uncertainty this can cause, here we have listed some of the tell-tale signs of addiction to specific common drugs that can be accessed today. These include:


    • Red rimmed, vacant eyes
    • Unusual weight change
    • Laughing at inappropriate times
    • Loss of motivation


    • Dilated pupils
    • Mood swings
    • Hyperactive or depressed
    • Change to eating or sleeping habits
    • Dry mouth


    • Watery eyes and bad vision
      Confusion and memory issues
      Mood swings
      Appears drunk
      An inordinate amount of aerosols in garbage
      Rash around mouth or nose and visible mucous


    • Dilated pupils
    • Strange behaviour
    • Paranoia
    • Hallucinations
    • Confusion
    • Change to speech patterns
    • Mood swings including aggression


    • Contracted pupils that do not respond to light sources
    • Needle marks
    • Change to sleep and eating patterns
    • Unusual sweating and flu-like symptoms

    Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

    It’s important to remember that not all addictions are illegal or ‘bad’ substances that can be found on the black market. But an increasing number of people are suffering from prescription drug addiction. Due to this rising pandemic, extensive research into the treatment and prevention of legal, over-the-counter drug addictions.

    Some of the warning signs to prescription drug abuse include:

    Opioid Painkillers

    • Drooping eyes
    • Constricted pupils regardless of the light source
    • Itching
    • Slurred speech
    • Confusion, lethargy, tiredness
    • Sudden lack of interest in social events or personal

    Anti-Anxiety Medications

    • Contracted pupils regardless of the light source
    • Slurred speech
    • Confusion, lack of muscle control, difficulty thinking clearly
    • Tiredness
    • Unusually slow breathing


    • Dilated pupils
    • Lack of appetite
    • High temperature
    • Inability to sleep
    • Anxiety, paranoia
    • Tachycardia or arrhythmia

    Consequences of Drug Use

    Drug addictions are an illness which invariably has a huge effect on the users’ life. So below we discuss the various aspects that are affected in the lives of those who struggle with addiction. These include:

    1. Health

    • Drug use is a leading cause of death around the world
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Stroke
    • Cancer
    • Lung disease
    • Mental disorders

    2. Society

    • Toxic chemicals endangering people and the environment due to discarded drug paraphernalia
    • Risk of fire or explosion
    • Contributing to bad neighbourhoods or intimidating ‘gangs’
    • Neglecting professional duties which could let down public bodies or services

    3. Relationships

    • Broken relationships due to stealing, lying or being irresponsible
    • Child abuse from neglect or altered mental states
    • Social and school inter-personal relationships all suffer
    • Professional relationship breakdown due to mistrust or poor performance
    • Isolation from friends or acquaintances
    • Loss of interest in group activities/ clubs

    4. Legal

    • Stealing to feed their habit
    • Arrests for drug use
    • Charges for physically assaulting others due to altered mental state
    • Other legal issues tied to the inability to function normally while under the influence of drugs
    • Danger due to owing drug money

    How Important is Drug Treatment?

    The only way to properly treat drug addiction is by undergoing treatment overseen by a medical professional. Once sobriety is achieved, the treatment will continue in the form of support groups, therapy, and possibly non-addictive medications.

    Attempting to become sober without the oversight of medical professionals could be dangerous and possibly even life-threatening. This is why detox, the first stage to recovery, should be completed at a private residential facility.

    Below we discuss the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment:

    1. Inpatient Treatment

    Inpatient treatment for drug addictions usually takes place over a six to twelve-month period. This means round the clock access to medical professionals who are there to help with the rehabilitation process.

    There are also short-term options for detoxing during the first twelve to forty-eight hours of withdrawal, after which the patient can then continue with outpatient treatment.

    2. Outpatient Treatment

    After detoxing from the substance therapy and creating a solid positive support structure around the patient is the main goal of outpatient treatment. All ties to peer groups and environments involved with the addiction must be replaced with healthy alternatives.

    Withdrawal Symptoms and How to Treat Them

    Drug withdrawal begins immediately after abstaining and the initial stages can last twelve to forty-eight hours. During this time, some symptoms of withdrawal can be dangerous, so it is best if medical professionals can supervisor during this crucial time period.

    Treatment usually involves drug rehabilitation, either in a facility or at home under the supervision of a medical professional, combined with therapy. Medications may be used to help counteract the initial withdrawal symptoms or to help alleviate organ damage caused by the addiction.

    Treatment Options for Drug Addiction

    Following a medically-assisted detox, we work with each of our patients in the following ways to help you achieve sobriety. This means that the three following methods are employed:

    1. Therapy

    There are dozens of therapy treatment options that can be used so treatment can be tailored to the specific person. One of the most commonly used is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). All therapy focuses on helping the participant reframe their thoughts and urges to create a healthier form of coping with life stresses.

    2. Medication

    Drugs alter brain chemistry, which means that when the drugs are no longer present in the body, the brain is thrown out of balance. Furthermore, medication is required to help balance out hormone and other chemical imbalances from damage caused by the drug.

    3. Rehabilitation

    There are several forms of rehab, including inpatient, which can take place in a larger medical clinic or special rehab facility. There are also outpatient options where therapy, support groups, and weekly medical appointments are used to monitor recovery.

    How to Help Someone Addicted to Drugs

    If someone you know is suffering from drug dependence, then you can help them by being supportive and encouraging them to quit. Never confront an addict or attempt to cut them off physically from their drug source as this can be interpreted as an attack, and they may become dangerous.

    Do not enable their habit by making excuses for them. They must make the decision to change, and that will not happen as long as they are content in their situation. What you can do is be a positive, supportive presence in their lives.

    Ready to ask for help?

    There is no shame in recognising your addiction or helping a loved one see the light. For more advice & information, call us today on 0800 088 66 86.

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