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LEARNING ABOUT ADDICTION

  • Many people do not understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will.
  • If you’re worried about your own or a friend or family member’s drug use, it’s important to know that help is available. Learning about the nature of drug abuse and addiction—how it develops, what it looks like, and why it can have such a powerful hold—will give you a better understanding of the problem and how to best deal with it.
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WHAT IS DRUG ADDICTION?

  • Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted person’s self-control and hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.
  • Similar to other chronic, relapsing diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, drug addiction can be managed successfully. As with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon for a person to relapse and begin abusing drugs again. Relapse, however, does not signal treatment failure—rather, it indicates that treatment should be reinstated or adjusted or that an alternative treatment is needed to help the individual regain control and recover.

WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BRAIN WHEN YOU TAKE DRUGS?

Drugs are chemicals that tap into the brain’s communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. There are at least two ways that drugs cause this disruption: by imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers and/or by overstimulating the “reward circuit” of the brain.

Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, have a similar structure to chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which are naturally produced by the brain. This similarity allows the drugs to “fool” the brain’s receptors and activate nerve cells to send abnormal messages. Other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or to prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals, which is needed to shut off the signal between neurons. This disruption produces a greatly amplified message that ultimately disrupts normal communication patterns.
Nearly all drugs, directly or indirectly, target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that control movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The overstimulation of this system, which normally responds to natural behaviors that are linked to survival (eating, spending time with loved ones, etc), produces euphoric effects in response to the drugs. This reaction sets in motion a pattern that “teaches” people to repeat the behavior of abusing drugs.
As a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain adapts to the dopamine surges by producing less dopamine or reducing the number of dopamine receptors. The user must therefore keep abusing drugs to bring his or her dopamine function back to ”normal” or use more drugs to achieve a dopamine high.
Long-term drug abuse causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits, as well. Brain imaging studies of drug-addicted individuals show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Together, these changes can drive an abuser to seek out and take drugs compulsively — in other words, to become addicted to drugs.

WHY DO SOME PEOPLE BECOME ADDICTED WHILE OTHERS DO NOT?

No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

  • Biology. The genes that people are born with—in combination with environmental influences—account for about half of their addiction vulnerability. Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may influence risk for drug abuse and addiction.
  • Environment. A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to socioeconomic status and quality of life in general. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and quality of parenting can greatly influence the occurrence of drug abuse and the escalation to addiction in a person’s life.

Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction vulnerability. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to more serious abuse, which poses a special challenge to adolescents. Because areas in their brains that govern decision making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, adolescents may be especially prone to risk-taking behaviors, including trying drugs of abuse.

PAINKILLERS, NARCOTIC ABUSE, AND ADDICTION

One of the most frequent reasons people go to the doctor is for pain relief. There are a number of different drugs that can ease pain. Opioids — also called opiates or narcotics — are pain relievers made from opium, which comes from the poppy plant. Morphine and codeine are the two natural products of opium. Synthetic modifications or imitations of morphine produce the other opioids:

  • Heroin (street drug)
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin (oxycodone)
  • Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab (hydrocodone)
  • Demerol (pethidine)
  • Methadone
  • Duragesic (fentanyl)

When people use narcotics only to control pain, they are unlikely to become addicted to the drugs. However, opioids provide an intoxicating high when injected or taken orally in high doses. Opioids are also powerful anxiety relievers. For these reasons, narcotic abuse is one of the most common forms of drug abuse in the U.S.

OTHER ABUSED DRUGS

Strictly speaking, most drugs referred to informally as narcotics really aren’t. However, two drug classes have some similar effects to opioids, when abused:

  • Benzodiazepines include Valium, Ativan, and Xanax. Benzodiazepine abuse results in sedation and calm, but tolerance develops rapidly. Withdrawal can result in seizures, unlike opioid withdrawal.
  • Barbiturates include Seconal, Amytal, Nembutal, and Luminal.  Barbiturates are also sedating and calming. Withdrawal after continued barbiturate abuse, like benzodiazepine abuse, is medically serious.

In general, benzodiazepines and barbiturates have less pain-relieving effects than opioids. All three drug classes are sedating and anxiety-relieving. Benzodiazepine abuse, barbiturate abuse, and narcotic abuse all produce tolerance and physical dependence over time, and withdrawal symptoms after sudden discontinuation.

IMPACT ON SOCIETY

Beyond the negative consequences for the individual that drug abuse and addiction can have for individuals, there is also a significant impact on society at large. Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States, including productivity and health- and crime-related costs, exceed $600 billion annually. This includes approximately $193 billion for illicit drugs, $193 billion for tobacco, and $235 billion for alcohol. As staggering as these numbers are, they do not fully describe the breadth of destructive public health and safety implications of drug abuse and addiction, such as family disintegration, loss of employment, failure in school, domestic violence, and child abuse.

PREVENTION IS THE KEY

Drug addiction is a preventable disease. Research has shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse. Although many events and cultural factors affect drug abuse trends, when youths perceive drug abuse as harmful, they reduce their drug taking. Thus, education and outreach are key in helping youth and the general public understand the risks of drugs and drug dependence.

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Excellent
Based on 115 reviews
Subhan Jutt
Subhan Jutt
2023-11-07
I highly recommend this facility in Islamabad. I have trusted the team of doctors and psychologists here. The work and efforts are real and truthful. I am really pleased and satisfied with this facility. Keep the good work up. May God bless you all.
Azhan Jatt
Azhan Jatt
2023-11-07
Highly recommend. This is the best rehab in Islamabad. I am satisfied with doctors and the entire team with their nice efforts they have put to keep my cousin in recovery. Thanks
Musa Baloch
Musa Baloch
2023-10-25
Nishan Rehab stands out as one of the most proficient drug treatment facilities in Islamabad. Their comprehensive methodology and unwavering commitment have been instrumental in guiding me through challenging periods. I highly recommend their services.
suftan akhtar
suftan akhtar
2023-10-18
Nishan Rehab Pakistan offers exceptional addiction treatment and comprehensive care for indoor patients. With a dedicated team of doctors, psychologists, and support staff, they specialize in assisting individuals struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism, as well as psychological and psychiatric disorders. If you or a loved one is dealing with substance abuse, rest assured that Nishan Rehab is here to provide the support you need. Contact them today with confidence.
Amama Rehman
Amama Rehman
2023-10-18
Nishan Rehab offer compassionate and effective refuge for individuals struggling with mental health challenges, their dedicated staff and holistic approach provide hope and healing for those in need.
Rajab Ali
Rajab Ali
2023-08-30
I personally visited Nishan Rehab to meet one of my relatives who was admitted there for his drug dependence. He was into many rehabs before enrolling himself at Nishan. He remained there for 4 months. This is first time he is in recovery for last one year and I thought to give reviews. No doubt, Nishan Rehab is best addiction treatment facility and changing lives and changing perspective of life. Be confident while admitting your loved one there. Best professional team, respect for all patients, comfortable rooms and good quality food.
Sajjad Ameer
Sajjad Ameer
2023-08-30
Now I'm in recovery after five years into drugs. I went many drug rehab centers but all were below average. One of my old drug taking friend who got treated at NiSHAN, told me to go there. I'm thankful to him as well. He showed me right path and k came to Nishan rehab. Nishan have best professional team, decent staff, comfortable living and best food. Highly recommended for drug addiction and alcoholism treatment.

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