Drug Addiction

There is too much upside to ignore a life free from addiction. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease characterised by compulsive drug use. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary, whether experimenting or having been prescribed medication. While some people will never display negative responses, others will find themselves relying on the effects produced by the drug. Seeking help with drug addiction is a step toward taking back control of your life.

What is Addiction

While varying drugs can produce different effects physically, all abused substances share the common effect of repeated use altering ways in which the brain and body function. Whether a medication or illicit drug, the brain typically releases serotonin or dopamine generating a calming, sometimes euphoric feeling which becomes associated with taking the substance. This disrupts natural levels of these chemicals, so feelings of depression or anxiety can emerge when the substances effects have diminished. Changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person’s memory, ability to learn, concentration and ability to make good decisions. Once chemically dependent on a substance, detoxing can be dangerous, so receiving medical help for drug addiction is vital to making a successful and healthy recovery.

Getting help for Drug Addiction

Based on research, the following key principles should form the basis of any treatment program: (i) Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behaviour; (ii) No single treatment is right for everyone; (iii) People need to have quick access to treatment; (iv) Effective treatment addresses all contributing issues, not just  drug use; (v) Staying in treatment long enough is critical; (vi) Counselling and other behavioural therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment; (vii) Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioural therapies; (viii) Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs; (ix) Treatment should address other possible mental disorders; (x) Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment; (xii) Treatment doesn't need to be voluntary to be effective; and (xiii) Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.

Mental Health and Addiction - Steps to recovery

Addiction is a friend of mental health, and integrated programs will often help with drug addiction and with co-occurring disorders. Drug abuse often begins with self-medicating symptoms of depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder and both the mental health issue and the addiction have their own symptoms. When someone is losing the ability to control their substance use, there will be demonstrated consequences. Missing work or preforming badly as a result of symptoms will affect relationships and stability in areas of an addict’s life. Mental and behavioural health problems will increase as a result of substance abuse left untreated. Substance abuse and mental health issues don’t get better without treatment. Admitting there is a problem is the first step towards recovering control and enjoying life again.

Treatment for substance abuse in Australia

The consequences of drug abuse extend into every aspect of life. Whether it’s home, the workplace, social activities or physical and emotional well-being, it’s uncommon for addicts to continue managing their life successfully while still engaged in drug abuse. It is common for addicts to begin compromising values, stopping activities previously enjoyed. An addict will do anything to get their drug of choice which can lead to family disintegration, loss of employment, failure in school, domestic violence, child abuse, crime, violence, institutionalisation and death. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, it is critical to get help as significantly as you would for any other chronic, relapsing disease; drug addiction can be managed successfully with treatment.