Addiction is a complex condition that affects a person’s ability to stop use of a substance or doing an activity. Drug addiction is the psychological and physical dependence on one or more legal or illegal drugs. The condition is also called substance use disorder. Drug addicted people have an intense focus on the drugs they consume to the point that it interferes seriously with their life. They keep using it despite knowing that drugs are harmful.
Drug addiction is caused by changes in the brain that leads people to have intense cravings for drugs and makes it physically and psychologically difficult to stop their consumption. Environmental and genetic factors have a role in initiating and continuing drug consumptions.
Signs and symptoms of intoxication may vary depending on the type of drug consumed. Common signs and symptoms are:
- Distorted thinking, behaviour and body functions
- Lack of interest in grooming or looks
- Health problems such as weight loss or gain
- Inability to function well at work
- Feeling to use drugs regularly
- Requires more dosage over time to get the same effect
- Spending more money on drugs
- Neglect of responsibilities
- Failing in attempts to stop consumption
- Withdrawal symptoms when ceasing drug use
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Impaired sensory, psychological and motor control
- Social problems such as maintaining relations
- Tries out risky or harmful activities
- Emotional outbursts, extreme mood changes
- Violet behaviours
- Disrupted sleeping and eating patterns
Diagnosis of drug addiction involves:
- Psychiatric and/or psychological evaluation
- Lab tests such as blood and urine tests
- Other tests to check health conditions
- DSM -5 criteria (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
- The best way is to avoid drugs completely.
- Consult your doctor if you feel you require more than the prescribed dose of a given medication.
- To avoid drug addiction in children, parents should take good care; communicate with your children; listen to them; set good examples for them; strengthen the relationship with your children.
- Avoid places where you used to get the drugs and strictly follow your treatment plans to prevent a relapse.
Treatment for drug addiction aims at stopping compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment for drug addiction is usually highly personalised and it requires support of the person’s family, friends and/or community. It can be complicated and may require a long time. Drug addiction usually has occasional relapses and hence, a short term and one time treatment may not be sufficient. There are various approaches to treat addiction and it may take various forms and in various settings. Some of the treatment measures include:
- Behaviour therapy (Individual, group or family therapy sessions)
- Medical devices to treat withdrawal
- Treating related psychological factors such as depression
- Continued care to avoid relapse
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