Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a disease that affects the brain. Drug addiction also affects behavior. When drug addiction is present, a person loses their ability to control the ramifications of using a legal or illegal drug. Drug addiction can occur from the use of medication that is prescribed or over the counter medication. Substances such as alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines are drugs that can become addictive.

Addiction Medicine and Drug Addiction

Addiction medicine is a specialty for doctors. Learning the ins and outs of medications and deciphering how to provide medical advice based on the individual needs of each person, requires this specialized training and medical education. Substance use disorder and opioid use disorder are two examples of a diagnosis used for someone addicted to drugs. One can become addicted to many types of drugs or alcohol including prescription drugs (pharmaceutical drugs), street drugs like crack cocaine or other illicit substances. Drug abuse or misuse of drugs may cause a physical dependence to the drug. Understanding drug use and how drugs affect the mind and body are important. It is up to each individual to know the risks involved. Prescription medications used for pain relief will not always turn into drug abuse or addiction. When you have a substance use disorder, it may get to the point where your ability to function in day-to-day life becomes impaired.

What is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic, progressive disease. With the right intervention this disease is treatable. Although a person might meet the requirements for a diagnosis pertaining to their drug abuse or drug addiction, successful change occurs when the person using wants to change their life. Drug addiction and sometime drug abuse is a compulsive need for and use of a drug which is characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.

Addiction Treatment | Turning Point of Tampa

For a person addicted, taking drugs seems almost easier than seeking out how to stop using. Most addicts do not like the word addict, and although needing to stop is in their best interest to arrest their disease, control of when, where, and how to stop can become a battle. The physical detoxification process and withdrawal symptoms can be scary. Illicit drugs and alcohol have protocols that are followed based on the amount and frequency of use. Once the detoxification is handled, it is suggested to gain additional drug addiction treatment in a safe place.

Learning to live and be productive without drugs takes time. A comprehensive treatment program is ideal to address the psychological and mental health issues associated with addiction. There are times when medication assisted treatment can be beneficial.

Drug Addiction Statistics

According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 22.5 million people (8.5 percent of the U.S. population) aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem in 2014. Only 4.2 million (18.5 percent of those who needed treatment) received any substance abuse treatment in the same year. Of these, about 2.6 million people received treatment at specialty treatment programs (CBHSQ, 2015). The evidence is obvious that this is a major problem within our society, no matter what definition of drugs or addiction you may subscribe too.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a trends and statistics section where they show opioid data by each state. The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers many publications that are available for print. These National Institute on Drug Abuse publications are a wealth of information and are free to the consumer.

Areas of Impact

Drug addiction is a brain disease that can also cause damage and changes in the brain chemistry. Some areas or functions that can be impacted by drug use include:


People do things when they are using drugs or alcohol that they normally would not do. Drug addiction creates situations where addicts will behave in any way needed to keep their addiction alive.

To stop the behavior, some sort of intervention usually occurs. The intervention can be from the consequences of their use such as legal troubles. Family issues can arise. Job or lack of holding a job can become an issue.

Formal Intervention

Formal Intervention from an interventionist could be helpful. Although interventions are not free, finding an interventionist is rather easy.

There are also books outlining how to succeed in an intervention if a family wants to try themselves.


At times, loss of memory is caused by blackouts where the brain is so impacted that you forget what they you done and what others did. When you use drugs for a long time, it can cause changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well. Regardless of the cause, addicts will report that there is significant impact on their memory from the use of drugs.

Decision Making

It is impossible to make good life decisions while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The consequences of addiction start to mount as the addict makes bad life choices in their addiction.


Living an addicted life is stressful, and in the throes of addiction that stress becomes another reason to use once again. Since the addict cannot tolerate or cope with life on life’s terms, they need the relief of the drug to feel better, or even normal enough to move throughout their day.

So why do our loved ones use drugs? The reality is, no one wakes up one day and decides they want to be a drug addict. The reasons are as varied as the kind of drugs used.

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