While the thought of a loved one or anyone else suffering from drug addiction may make you feel bad, there is almost always hope. Most drug rehab centres have great programmes to get the addict off drugs and heading back to a normal life. If you know a person who is addicted to drugs, encouraging them to get treatment is essential; the sooner they undergo treatment the more successful it will be.
Here are 8 points to remember about drug addiction:
- In spite of the many harmful consequences, drug addicts cannot get off the drugs on their own, just by trying harder. It is a chronic disease where drug use is compulsive and uncontrollable due to changes in the brain.
- Brain changes continue to occur while ever the person takes drugs. This can lead to behavioural changes such as lack of self control and the inability to resist the urge to take more drugs.
- Drug addiction is a relapsing disease. If the addict relapses it means the treatment regime was not successful and should be changed the next time.
- Most drugs cause the brain to produce an oversupply of the chemical dopamine which is what causes the intense pleasurable ‘high’.
- To compensate, the brain then causes cells to not respond – called tolerance – so the person needs more of the same drug to get the same intense ‘high’ as before.
- Risk factors for drug addiction include several factors including genetics, environment and developmental influences. No one can say for sure if a person will become addicted.
- Drug addiction may not be curable, but it is treatable and can be managed successfully.
- Drug addiction can be prevented by teaching children and teens about the dangers of it. Many people such as teachers, health care providers and parents can play a role in this education.
The younger a person is when they start taking drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted and the harder it is to treat that addiction. This is because their brain has not fully developed to start with and so the changes the drugs cause are much more severe.
This means that educating children about the dangers of drug taking is essential. It is also a good idea to help and teach children and teens to find other methods or ways of coping with the many problems society throws in their path as they grow up. Counselling children with problems can help, but even just showing compassionate understanding and empathy can help a child feel better about themselves and so less likely to turn to drugs for relief from emotional pain. Whatever can be done to minimise or prevent drug use should be done.