Drug Addiction and Abuse

Addiction is a serious, long-term challenge with no easy fix. Despite its complexity, there are many paths to recovery and sustained sobriety. Contrary to popular belief, illegal drugs are not the only problem. Prescription medications and alcohol can also cause dependency if misused or abused. 

Drug Abuse and Addiction

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is defined as a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. 

Chronic diseases such as heart disease, liver disease, and addiction can be treated with different modalities. However, the altered function of the affected organs can not be reversed. This is why it is so important that recovering addicts practice an aftercare plan that includes therapies, and ways to continually work on maintaining their recovery journey. 

Why Do People Use Drugs

Drug addiction is a highly personal disease. People use drugs for many different reasons. Research shows that there are a few common reasons, though. 

To Feel Good

Drugs can cause not only an intense feeling of pleasure but depending on which drug is used, other positive feelings as well. For example, with stimulants such as methamphetamine, the initial euphoria is followed by feelings of confidence, strength, and alertness for many hours. In contrast, the euphoria caused by opioids such as heroin is followed by feelings of satisfaction and relaxation. 

To Feel Better

Some people are given prescription medications such as Adderall, Xanax, or Percocet to help with a medical diagnosis. If used as directed, for a specific period of time, these medications do what they are intended to do. However, some people develop n dependency on their prescribed medications because they change the way their brain understands rewards, etc. If this happens you may need Adderall detox. The addicted person starts to think “If this medication helps me feel better, more of it must make me feel incredible!”.

To Do Better

In addition to prescribed medications to increase performance in things like school, work, or even sports, some people turn to illicit drugs like cocaine to provide the extra boost they believe they need. 

To Satisfy Curiosity

Whether curiosity comes from the environment, social pressures, or their own personal wonders, curiosity is one of the main reasons people use drugs. Seeing drugs being used in movies and on television plants a seed of wonder in many people, especially adolescents whose brains are still developing. Being around people using drugs is also a reason people choose to satisfy their curiosity. 

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When Does Drug Abuse Become Addiction

Drug abuse is a serious issue that occurs when one uses an illicit substance or takes prescription medication in a manner that is not prescribed. While drug abuse can lead to substance use disorders, it is not always the case. Addiction, on the other hand, is characterized by the inability to quit using a drug despite the negative consequences it may cause.

Even if an individual’s life is falling apart, they may still obsess about using the substance. It is important to note that addiction is different from physical dependence and tolerance. Physical dependence occurs when withdrawal symptoms manifest if someone suddenly stops using a substance, while tolerance happens when the efficacy of a drug decreases over time.

Risk Factors for Addiction

There are several common risk factors for addiction, including social/environmental, heredity, age of first use, type of substance used, and the state of someone’s mental health. 

Social and Environmental

Social factors are things like peer pressure or social isolation. If someone feels lonely, or like they don’t fit in, or maybe they just feel awkward in general, they are likely to pick up a drug to try and feel like they are part of a group. 

Stress, exposure to violence, or poverty are examples of environmental factors that can increase the risk of substance abuse. When environmental factors play a role, people are enticed to use drugs as a way of numbing their emotions or changing their feelings about their situation.


Heredity, also known as “it runs in families,” is a clinical term that refers to the passing down of traits from one generation to the next. While the exact gene responsible for addiction has yet to be identified, overwhelming evidence suggests that addiction tends to run in families. Individuals who have a family history of addiction, such as a father, grandmother, aunt, or cousin, are at a significantly higher risk of developing addiction themselves compared to those without a family history of it.

Age of First Use

The age of first use is important because, during developmental ages, such as teenagers, or even younger, our brains are developing their reward system understandings and pathways. If someone is using during these periods of development, it paves the way for the brain to be wired to expect the substance to be present to obtain positive feelings. 

Type of Substance Used

The type of substance used is an important risk factor because some drugs are more physically or mentally addicting than others. Heroin, for example, is either the most abused or the most rapidly acting member of opioids. It is difficult to not become addicted to Heroin if used.

Mental Health

Mental health plays a large role in whether someone becomes addicted to drugs or not. For instance, having an undiagnosed mental illness increases the risk exponentially. Typically, people with an undiagnosed mental illness will turn to drugs to try and self-medicate their symptoms. 

Getting Help for Addiction

If you’re looking for relief from addiction and it’s effects, Agape Detox Center is here to support. Our inviting atmosphere offers an ideal setting for re-gaining control of your life through personalized treatment plans tailored specifically to meet your needs.  This includes detox services or help with managing addictive behaviors. Remember, you don’t have to do this alone; get in touch today and our admissions coordinators can walk you through the path ahead towards finding peace within yourself. 

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