Drug addiction is a complex disease that takes its toll on people’s minds and bodies, as well as their family and friends. Compulsive behaviors can take a toll because the people with addiction are driven to the point of thinking about drugs or alcohol on an almost constant basis. They will seek it in spite of negative consequences, including health, personal, and even legal issues. Find out more about the signs drug abuse has turned into an addiction and how to help a loved one fight back.

How Abuse Looks

Drug addiction is characterized by some of the following issues:

  • Cravings
  • Emotionally fixated on drugs
  • Inability to stay away from addictive behavior in spite of consequences

It is difficult to diagnose addiction in spite of all this because it requires assessments by trained individuals who are certified, addiction professionals. Speak with a mental health professional regarding addiction and substance use problems and they will give very good information that will be helpful in making decisions going forward. There are other issues to watch out for when dealing with addictive behavior. 

Inability to Abstain

Prolonged drug use creates chemical changes in the brain. This alters the reward pathway in the brain that prompts drug-seeking in spite of negative consequences. When activity continues in spite of negative consequences and in spite of the fact it is no longer rewarding. It is the result of changes in the brain, so that makes it more challenging to deal with. Addiction starts because a person feels euphoric and desires to feel that same feeling again. When people seek reward-seeking behaviors that give them desirable outcomes, they get what they want, but only briefly. 

Reward Pathway

Due to increased dopamine and activity in the brain’s rewards circuits, there are some challenges they face. There is a neurochemical rebound which causes the reward function of the brain to drop below normal levels. When an activity is repeated, the same level of euphoria or relief is not achieved. The person never really gets as high as the first time so it continues to grow as the person seeks more of the drug for the same reward. Over time, the person develops tolerance, first, then, dependence. Finally, addiction takes hold at the tail end of the cycle and the person is not able to stop without going through withdrawal. Usually, this means seeking rehab to quit because it has been going on for some years, even decades, and is hard to quit without support. At this point, the person has no choice left but to compel themselves into treatment, with the support of loved ones, so they can gain some level of function at a normal level. This means getting up, going to work, paying bills, and remaining stable. When they cannot do this, they need help to get back on track with rehab professionals guiding them through the process. 

A Step in the Right Direction provides rehab for people with drug abuse and addiction. It is difficult to quit without support, which is why we are here to help. Our professional staff can design a plan that works for your individual needs. For more information sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702