Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 March 2021
Table of contents
What Is Drug Addiction?
Addiction is a disorder that affects both the brain and the actions of the person. When you’re addicted to drugs, you can’t prevent yourself from using them, no matter how addictive they are. The sooner you seek help for your drug abuse, the more likely you are to prevent any of the disease’s more serious effects.
Drug addiction is not just limited to cocaine, heroin, or other illicit drugs. Alcohol, nicotine, prescription medications, sleep, and anti-anxiety drugs, and other legal substances will all contribute to addiction.
Prescription or illegally accessed narcotic pain killers, often known as opioids, may lead to addiction. The crisis has reached epidemic proportions, especially in the USA. Opioids were involved in two-thirds of all prescription overdose deaths in 2018 in the USA.
You can initially choose to take a drug because you like how it makes you feel. You may believe that you have complete control of how often and how much you use it. But on the other hand, these drugs alter the way the brain functions over time. These physical changes have the ability to last a long time. They cause you to lose control and can result in harmful behaviors.
Addiction vs. Abuse and Tolerance
When you use lawful or illicit drugs in ways you shouldn’t, you’re engaged in drug misuse. You may take more pills than prescribed or have someone else’s medication. You can use drugs to make you feel better, relieve tension, or escape reality. However, you will usually change your bad habits or stop using them entirely.
When you can’t quit, you have an addiction. Not because your life is in danger. Not because it causes you or your loved ones financial, mental, or other issues. And if you try to stop, the need to get to consume narcotics will take up any minute of the day.
Functional dependency or aversion is not the same as addiction. Withdrawal signs occur when a drug is abruptly stopped in instances of physical dependency. When a dosage of a drug becomes less efficient with time, it is called tolerance.
For example, if you take opioids for pain for a long period, you can establish addiction and even physical dependency. This does not suggest that you are dependent. Addiction occurs among just a small percentage of people when opioids are used under medical supervision.
Effects on The Brain
Your brain is wired to make you want to replay pleasurable encounters. As a result, you’re motivated to repeat them.
The dopamine pathway of your brain is targeted by medications that could be addictive. Dopamine is a drug that is flooded through the brain. This creates a deep sense of satisfaction. To get that much, you keep taking the prescription.
Your brain responds to the additional dopamine over time. As a result, you can continue to take more of the medication to achieve the same high. Other activities you formerly enjoyed, such as eating and spending time with relatives, can now provide you with less enjoyment.
If you take medications for a long time, it will influence other chemical processes and circuits in the brain. They have the potential to harm you:
- Ability to learn
Both brain shifts, when combined, will cause you to search out and use drugs in ways that are out of your control.
Who is more at risk of becoming addicted?
The brain and body of each person are unique. Drugs affect people in various ways. Some people like the sensation the first time they do it and continue to do it again. Others fear it and never seek it again.
Addiction should not happen to anyone who takes medications. It can, however, happen to anybody, at any age. Some factors can increase your chances of becoming addicted, such as:
- Family history. Around half of your chances are determined by your genetics. You’re more likely to experience problems with alcohol or medications when your parents or family did. Addiction affects both men and women similarly.
- Early drug use. The brains of children are still developing, and substance usage will alter this phase. As a consequence, using drugs at a young age can increase your risk of being addicted later in life.
- Mental health issues. Whether you’re stressed, have difficulty paying attention, or are always nervous, you’re more likely to acquire an addiction. To try to feel better, you may resort to narcotics. Addiction is even more common if you have a background of abuse in your life.
- Difficult relationships. If you grow up in a household with problems and aren’t close to your parents or siblings, you’re more likely to become addicted.
Signs of Addiction
One or more of the following warning signals could be present:
- A desire to take the medication on a regular basis, or several times per day.
- Taking more medications than you intended to and over a prolonged period of time than you expected.
- Keeping the prescription in hand at all times and purchasing it even though you can’t afford it.
- Taking drugs, even though they interfere with your career or lead you to strike out at your family and friends.
- I’m trying to have some time alone.
- Not looking after yourself or your appearance.
- Stealing, lying, or engaging in risky conduct, such as driving while inebriated or engaging in unprotected intercourse.
- Spending the rest of your time receiving, utilizing, or withdrawing from the drug’s effects.
- Feeling unwell when you try to quit.
How to Prevent Addiction
And if they keep a pain medication for a long time, most patients who take it as prescribed by their doctor may not get addicted. You should not be afraid of being addicted to opioids if you need pain relief.
However, whether you’ve previously abused narcotics or alcohol, or if you have family members that have, you’re at a higher risk.
To stop being addicted to pain relievers, follow these steps:
- Take the medication precisely as directed by your doctor.
- Tell the doctor whether you have a medical or family history of substance misuse or addiction so they can administer the right medications for you.
It’s necessary to note that patients sometimes grow resistant to pain medicine, causing greater doses to reach the same degree of pain relief. This is perfectly natural and has little to do with addiction. It’s likely that you’ll need higher doses if you’re addicted, but it’s not for pain relief. Even, if this result becomes troublesome, see the doctor.
Speak to the psychiatrist whether your opioid use has gotten out of hand or is causing you complications.
It will take a long time to recover from opioid addiction. Although there is no solution, therapy will help you avoid using medications and keep off them. Counseling, medications, or both can be used in the care. Consult the doctor to decide the right course of treatment for you.