Imagine “handling” a sink full of dirty dishes by throwing a dish towel over them and turning off the kitchen light. It’s quite obvious that such actions will not serve to actually handle the dishes, and yet the individual may feel that they are some sort of solution, at least temporarily. This may seem completely ludicrous, but this is essentially exactly what an individual is doing every time he chooses to take drug substances.
About Drug Use
There is no doubt that life is full of challenges and difficulties, various obstacles that the individual must overcome in order to remain healthy, happy and productive. This is not the problem, but how individuals deal with life, escape from life or suppress life can definitely be a problem. If the individual chooses drug substances as a solution for their life problems, they are not only failing to address the actual problems, they are creating a host of new ones. This is because drug substances cannot address any of the problems for which they are taken, and only suppress the undesirable sensations of these problems by interfering with the normal functions of the human body.
When an individual chooses to use drug substances to solve their life problems, they usually aren’t addressing these problems while drugs are suppressing their symptoms. Using drugs as a solution to problems means that the individual has to continue taking these drugs indefinitely so as to continue suppressing the symptoms indefinitely. The problem is that the body is not designed to accept this interference and after some time will grow tolerant of these substances, no longer experiencing the same effects as a result of drug use. For the individual this means they no longer experience the relief they desire. This problem is usually resolved by taking even greater quantities of drug substances.
While drugs are not a normal part of its functioning, the human body will work hard to adapt to their constant presence by establishing a new normal that includes these substances. When this occurs, the individual has become drug dependent, and no longer has any control over their drug use habits. This usually occurs concurrently with drug addiction, the condition wherein the individual is compulsively driven to continue taking drug substances despite all the damaging effects these substances are causing to their health, relationships and life. At some point in this process the individual may recognize that drug use has become a major problem in their life, causing endless destruction and requiring help, but they may not understand how to get the help they need, and they may feel very embarrassed by their inability to resolve their drug addiction problems on their own.
How Drugs Work in the Brain
Drugs produce their various effects mainly by interrupting the communication channels in the brain and central nervous system. Depending on the specific drug substance, it may interrupt the way that nerve cells send, receive or process information, sometimes all three. Drugs can cause these interruptions either by imitating natural messengers, called neurotransmitters, or by overstimulating the production of these neurotransmitters, and thereby overstimulating the reward patterns in the brain. Marijuana and heroin, for example, mimic natural neurotransmitters and therefore cause the brain to send abnormal messages. Methamphetamine and cocaine, on the other hand, overstimulate the production of natural neurotransmitters related to the processes of pleasure and reward, and simultaneously prevent the normal recycling of these neurotransmitters, resulting in a flood of these chemicals in the brain. Dopamine, the main neurotransmitter involved in pleasure and reward and which also controls movement, emotion and motivation, can be so overstimulated by drug use that the individual experiences extreme euphoria, which drives them into continuing their drug use indefinitely.
Over time, the body adapts to the overproduction of natural neurotransmitters by reducing its own natural production of these chemical messengers as well as by reducing the number of dopamine receptors. This means that the individual no longer experiences the same pleasurable sensations through normal life activities like they once did, and cannot even experience the same pleasure through drug use like they once did. This can drive the individual to consume even larger quantities of drugs in an attempt to force more dopamine production, but this too will push the body to eliminate even more of its own natural dopamine production and dopamine receptors. This process of tolerance can continue on and on until the individual eventually comes to believe that there is no way to experience rewards and pleasure without drug use, and in fact experiences very little of either even with dangerously excessive amounts of drug consumption. Additionally, individuals who have consumed drugs for some period of time often find that they have difficulty with basic decision making, learning, memory, behavior control and judgement functions as a result.
How Drug Addiction Affects Others
It can be quite obvious to see how drug addiction affects the individual himself. He can suffer from extensive physical, mental and emotional damages, and since drug use is of top priority in his life, he will often abandon everything else that once mattered dearly to him, including his job, his possessions, his relationships, his hobbies and even his family. However, what few individuals consider is how their drug abuse and addiction problems affect others around them.
In all honesty, drug abuse and addiction problems affect an individual’s family members, friends, community and indeed society at large. Their inability to work, their drain on healthcare resources and their compulsive need to obtain more drug substances through any means available means that they are increasing societal costs related to lost work productivity, healthcare and crime. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that drug abuse and addiction costs our nation over $600 billion each year, including roughly $193 billion for illicit drugs, $193 billion for tobacco products and $235 billion for alcohol. What these numbers fail to portray is just how thoroughly families can be torn apart and ruined by a loved one’s drug abuse and addiction problems.
Resolving Drug Addiction Problems
When the individual first chose to turn to drug use, they were as yet unaffected by the powerful grip of these drug substances. If ending one’s drug use were as simple as choosing not to use drugs anymore, it’s safe to say that far more individuals would be able to quit their drug use than have actually done so.
Ideally, the problem of drug addiction would be conclusively handled through prevention strategies. With the right education, more individuals can understand the true nature of drug substances and their effects on the human body and then make the wise choice to abstain from drug use. However, while drug education is most definitely important and very effective in many cases, there are still those who will be exposed to drug use and fall into drug addiction, and they need help resolving these problems.
Professional rehabilitation treatment assists individuals in addressing all of the physical, mental and emotional causes and effects of drug use so that they can effectively break ties with these dangerous substances and establish the foundation necessary for a happy, healthy and productive future. This does not mean that recovery is fast or easy, but rather that with the right dedication, support and treatment, an individual can take back control of their life and move forward into a better future.
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