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Drug Addiction

Put An End To The Addiction Cycle

Drug Addiction

Put An End To The Addiction Cycle

As reported in a 2016 National Study on Drug Use and Health, approximately 28.6 million Americans over the age of 12 overused illegal drugs sometime during the 30 days before the study. That means roughly one out of every 10 Americans is battling some type of substance use.1

It’s common knowledge that drug addiction is a devasting disease that can take over your life – ruin your finances, derail a successful career and devastate a family. Even though we know all of that, why do so many Americans find themselves addicted to drugs?

The Battle of Addiction Is Real

When people say that something is “all in your head,” with drug abuse, it really is in your head – or rather in your brain. Just stated, drugs cause chemical changes in your brain by initiating surges of a chemical called dopamine. This chemical produces the feelings of euphoria and excitement. After repeated use of drugs, your brain has to adjust to the higher levels of dopamine by creating less of it naturally and reducing receptors receiving and sending signals.

Drugs are essentially taking over and reprogramming brain functions in your head. What used to get a person high, isn’t enough now. More drugs are needed just to bring the dopamine functions of the brain back to normal and for the addict to continue feeling the sense of excitement and well-being. At some point, horrific cravings kick in and drive the addict to seek out more drugs no matter how terrible the effects are on their life and health.

The battle of addiction begins when people find themselves acting compulsively and uncontrollably on a mission to find more drugs. Even though it’s common knowledge drugs will destroy your health, brain, and life, addiction to opioids is considered to be at epidemic proportions, and the consequences are deadlier than ever.

Drug Abuse Facts To Consider

The National Institute on Drug Abuse published the following points to consider regarding drug abuse.

Drug addiction is a chronic disease that is difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.

With repeated drug use, the brain changes occur affecting self-control and interfering with the ability to resist intense urges.

Most drugs affect the brain’s circuits by flooding it with the chemical dopamine. These surges of dopamine only reinforce pleasurable but unhealthy activities, leading people to repeat the behavior.

No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors influences the risk of addiction.

Drug addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed.

The Most Common Drugs Abused

Many drugs can alter a person’s thinking and judgment, leading to health risks, including addiction, drugged driving and the spread of infectious diseases. Some are more dangerous and addictive than others. Understanding the types of drugs, causes, and consequences of the addiction cycle is a solid first step in recovery.


Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed tranquilizers for a spectrum of mental disorders and physical ailments. Sometimes referred to as, “benzos,” these drugs are used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and some types of seizures. They are legal when prescribed by a doctor; however, a black market exists for these drugs. On the street, benzodiazepine drugs might go by other names like tranks, downers or simply benzos.

Even though the drugs are deemed medically valid for some health issues, and in spite of the fact the government heavily regulates them, these drugs can be hazardous and highly addictive. To boost their effects and the “buzz,” addicts will combine the use of benzo with other drugs, like opioids or alcohol.

Some common benzodiazepines include:

  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Klonopin
  • Librium
  • Halcion

Illicit Drugs

When people talk about illicit drugs, they are usually referring to the highly addictive and illegal substances sold on the street, like heroin, marijuana, and meth. The decision to try one of these drugs for the first time may seem like a voluntary, harmless one, but the gripping and unexpected addition that follows makes the ability to quit nearly impossible.

Physical dependence is one of the first signs of an addiction to an illicit substance. Usually, a person develops a tolerance to the drug and experiences withdrawal symptoms when they stop using for a short period. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe, including heart palpitations, seizures, vomiting and more depending on the drug and how much is consumed.

Addicts of illicit drugs recognize the adverse effects of the drugs on their life and may express a desire to stop, but they continue to prioritize the substance over family, friends, work and their health.

Types of Illicit Drugs

  • Cocaine
  • Crack
  • Ecstasy
  • Hallucinogens, such as LSD, PCP, mushrooms, and salvia
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants, such as spray paints, markers and cleaning supplies which are inhaled through the mouth or nose
  • Ketamine
  • Marijuana
  • Meth
  • Synthetic marijuana

Opioids and Opiates

Opiates include controlled prescription substances which are made from opium, a chemical that naturally occurs in poppy seeds and plants. These drugs are most often clinically used for treating mild to severe pain in patients. Many people refer to them as “opioid painkillers.”

Because of their ability to provide a feeling of calm and peace, opioid painkillers have reached an incredibly high rate of abuse. Unfortunately, abuse of opioids quickly leads to addiction. It was reported by the Center for Disease Control in 2012 that 259 million opioid painkiller prescriptions were written in 2012. It was also estimated two million people later developed an addiction.

Common Prescription Opioids

  • hydrocodone (Vicodin®) oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®)
  • codeine
  • fentanyl

More than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids—a 2-fold increase in a decade. Source: CDC WONDER

Sleeping Pill Addiction

Many people mistakenly assume sleeping pills are not habit-forming or addictive, and surprisingly enough people who have come to us with an addiction to sleeping pills were told, by their doctor, they wouldn’t form an addiction, and the medicine was safe. They may be safe for people who do not have underlying issues or may be more predisposed to addiction. After a while, people who take sleeping pills are not able to sleep without the help of a pill, or they need to continue increasing their dose in order to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Most people don’t realize they’ve become addicted until they stop taking their sleeping medication. They are shocked by the withdrawal symptoms they begin to feel. Addiction to sleeping pills starts when people up their doses and usually without the guidance of a physician.

Here are some signs the use of sleeping pills may have become an issue:

  • Failed attempts to quit
  • Cravings for sleep-related medications
  • Going to multiple doctors for prescriptions and refills
  • Frequent memory loss associated with the sleeping pills

Types of Sleeping Pills

Sleeping pills fall within the sedative-hypnotic category of drugs. In this grouping are also barbiturates and benzodiazepines, like Xanax; however, sleeping pills are non-benzodiazepine hypnotics. Commonly known as “z-drugs” because they induce sleep. The three most often prescribed sleeping pills are:

  • Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Sonata (zaleplon)
  • Lunesta (eszopiclone)

After a while, recovery gets harder because the brain is used to the effects of the sleeping pills. Many addicts who try to quit sleeping pills say they suffer from bouts of insomnia that are worse than before they started taking the drug. The good news is that we can help break the cycle. With monitored, medically-assisted detox patients are usually relieved of most withdrawal symptoms.

Stimulant Abuse and Addiction

Understanding how stimulants affect the body may help people understand why they have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Stimulants act on the central nervous system to boost alertness and cognitive function. They can be prescribed by a doctor or an illegal substance, such as cocaine. All can be taken orally, snorted or injected.

Many people begin abusing prescription stimulants to improve their performance versus getting “high.” There’s a long history of students and athletes overusing stimulants in an effort to outperform their peers or the competition. It may start out as a harmless attempt to overachieve, but it can quickly turn into an addiction.

Like other drugs commonly abused, stimulants produce an overload of dopamine in the brain. This pleasure-inducing chemical establishes its hold on an addict when the brain can no longer produce reasonable amounts of it on its own. This craving for more pleasure only reinforces stimulant abuse and develops into addiction in a short period of time.

Here is a list of some of the most well-known stimulants:

  •  Adderall
  • Dexedrine
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Desoxyn
  • Ephedrine
  • Illicit Stimulants (cocaine, crack, and crystal meth)

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