Drug addiction is the compulsive urge to take drugs and this is a chronic disease where the addict is unable to curb drug cravings despite the negative changes experienced. A person who is keen to try out drugs for the first time will do it voluntarily, but when he/she becomes addicted to the consequences of taking the drug, it leads to changes in brain that fights the need to stop taking the drug and this change is constantly enabling the person to lack self-control or facilitating them to continuously take the drug.
Brain of a person who takes drugs:
What compels a person to take drugs to an extent that they enjoy the feeling tremendously. These drugs target brain’s reward system and this center is flooded by a chemical messenger called dopamine responsible for controlling pleasure and behaviors such as spending moments with loved ones, movement, motivation, emotion and eating. The level of dopamine that floods the reward system is excessively high compared to the normal amount and this induces a person to experience a pleasurable high feeling compelling them to take the drug often.
When the person continues to take drugs the brain adjusts to increased amount of dopamine by reducing the amount of this chemical or by lowering dopamine receptors and the ability of the cells in the reward circuit system to respond to dopamine. This response reduces a person’s ability to feel the pleasurable high compared to the first time when they took the drug. During such a situation the person will continue to take the drug, till they encounter a dopamine high that was experienced when they took the drug for the first time. The affected person is now not interested in anything else, not even the activities which they find to be highly enjoyable.
Drugs affect the normal functioning of the brain, drugs such as heroin or marijuana have similar structure to neurotransmitters. Due to this similarity they are able to fool brain receptors and activate nerve cells to release abnormal messages. Drugs like cocaine stimulate nerve cells to release large amount of neurotransmitters thereby avoiding normal recycling of brain chemicals required to shut down normal communication between neurons. This irregularity produces large amount of false messages and therefore disrupting normal communication process.
Negative effects of drug addiction and abuse:
Drug addiction is a serious problem, it changes the way a person functions and behaves, mainly because drugs affects the body to a great extent. An important point to remember is drugs are chemicals, and each drug has a different structure that affects the body in various ways. There are drugs that are absorbed through ingestion, inhalation and injection. The drugs that are injected moves into the blood stream directly and drugs that are ingested passes through digestive system.
The pleasure of addiction emerges from the flooding of dopamine a neurotransmitter in the brain’s reward circuit. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure, emotion, movement and cognition. The high levels of dopamine causes a person to experience a state of euphoria and this is what leads a person to get addicted.
Drug addiction affects relationships with family, friends, work colleagues, and the person is also prone to self-harm, accident, domestic violence and even death. Drugs have an adverse effect on physical health, and the affected person suffers stroke and severe brain damage resulting in problems with decision making, attention and memory and the individual is unable to function normally with his/her day to day activities.
Drug addiction causes cardiovascular conditions that range from infected heart valves and blood vessels, collapsed veins from injected drugs and abnormal heart beat that can progress to heart attacks. The other harmful effects on the body caused by drugs are nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and weakened immunity system increasing susceptibility to infections. When a person is addicted to drugs he/she looses self-control and is not aware of their surroundings, and you will notice these behavioral changes, which are loss of self-control, extreme activity, lack of judgement, aggressive behavior, paranoia and hallucinations.
Effective ways to fight drug addiction:
Whether in rehabilitation or recovery, it is common for an addict to experience cravings, the need to crave drugs is present even in a person who has recovered from the addiction for many years. Holiday periods and celebration moments are also a trigger to encounter cravings and the frequency of wanting drugs is at its peak. It is certainly tough for a person in complete recovery to let go of addiction during holiday periods, but the addict should not feel under-confident during such a circumstance and he/she should relate the craving to just a feeling. An important point to remember is cravings surface every now and then, and there are ways of tackling these cravings.
When craving hits do not panic:
It is possible to feel cravings, but when it hits you do not panic and feel you are likely to get into relapse. Just consider this to be a feeling and think of the pleasurable things life has to offer, or think of a good and commendable moment. Practice meditation and even prayers will help. Most importantly try to switch from thoughts of craving into victorious moments encountered in life.
Aim to get into a social circle:
Any person who has recovered from addiction treatment would certainly want alone time to ponder over cravings. It would be great to get into a social circle or reach out to close friends and family and even speak to someone who has recovered fully to know what it feels like to be in recovery and overcome cravings.
Get into a regular activity:
A good way to beat cravings will be to get into a regular physical activity, it releases feel good chemicals called endorphins that promotes good mood and takes a person’s mind off cravings. You can jog or brisk walk with a large group of friends or even swim or play a fun sport. You will only have fun and feel the fantastic rhythm of recovery, and you can also indulge in great hobbies like music, books, painting, art, music and so on.
Make a list of your efforts in tackling every step of overcoming addiction:
An excellent way to beat cravings is to make a list of the efforts you have made to overcome every step of addiction. Remember every step of addiction overcome is a reward to not only yourself but other people around. Every time you get cravings, think of how victorious you have been in overcoming the addiction and you will experience good vibes.