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Drug or alcohol addiction can be a difficult thing to recover from as your body becomes physically dependant on these substances. Discuss topics including alcohol/drug rehab centers or programs, share rehab stories and offer support, and long term recovery post-rehab.

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Am I an Addict?

One very real indicator that you may be an addict is the fact that you are reading this article! But it is a very good sign because it means you have taken the first step, realizing that you may be in trouble, and are researching ways to help yourself.

For an addict, drug abuse has serious consequences. The most serious consequence is that prolonged drug use can change the brain in fundamental and long-lasting ways. Eventually, it becomes difficult to derive pleasure from other normal activities, such as sports, food, or sex. After repeated drug use, you reach a point when deciding to use drugs is no longer voluntary. Scientists have proof now that drugs literally change your brain. It's as if a "switch" goes off in the brain. It is during this transformation process that a drug abuser becomes a drug addict.

Addicts are compulsive

If a person is compulsively seeking and using a drug despite negative consequences, such as loss of job, debt, physical problems brought on by drug abuse, or family problems, then he or she is probably a drug addict. The physical signs of being a drug addict can vary depending on the person and the drug being abused. For example, someone who abuses marijuana may have a chronic cough or worsening of asthmatic conditions. THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for producing its effects, is associated with weakening the immune system which makes the user more vulnerable to infections, such as pneumonia. Each drug has short-term and long-term physical effects; stimulants like cocaine increase heart rate and blood pressure, whereas opioids like heroin may slow the heart rate and reduce respiration.

How do you know if you or someone you know is addicted to drugs?

How quickly a potential drug addict does become addicted to a drug depends on many factors including the biology of their body. All drugs are potentially harmful and may have life-threatening consequences associated with their use. There are also vast differences among individuals in sensitivity to various drugs. While one person may use a drug one or many times and suffer no ill effects, another person may be particularly vulnerable and overdose with first use. There is no way of knowing in advance how someone may react.

Here are four questions to help determine if someone is at risk of becoming an addict.

  1. Have you ever felt you ought to cut down on your drug use?

  2. Have people ever annoyed you by criticizing your drug use?

  3. Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drug use?

  4. Have you ever had a drink or taken a drug first thing in the morning to steady your nerves?

One or more "yes" could mean the person is a drug addict

Can drug addicts just quit?

It is true that the individual initially makes the voluntary decision to use drugs. But once addicted, for a drug addict, it is no longer a simple matter of choice. Prolonged drug use changes the brain in long lasting and fundamental ways that result in truly compulsive, often uncontrollable, drug craving, seeking and use, which is the essence of addiction. It becomes a more powerful motivator for that person than virtually any other. Once addicted, it is almost impossible for a drug addict to stop using drugs without treatment.

Nearly all addicted individuals believe in the beginning that they can stop using drugs on their own, and most try to stop without treatment. However, most of these attempts result in failure to achieve long-term abstinence. Research has shown that long-term drug use results in significant changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops using drugs. These drug-induced changes in brain function may have many behavioral consequences, including the compulsion to use drugs despite adverse consequences, the defining characteristic of addiction.

Why some people become addicts, while others do not

No single factor can predict whether or not a person will become addicted to drugs. Risk for addiction is influenced by a person's biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

  • Biology. The genes that people are born with--in combination with environmental influences--account for about half of their addiction vulnerability. Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may influence risk for drug abuse and addiction.

  • Environment. A person's environment includes many different influences--from family and friends to socioeconomic status and quality of life in general. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and parental involvement can greatly influence the course of drug abuse and addiction in a person's life.

  • Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person's life to affect addiction vulnerability, and adolescents experience a double challenge. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it is to progress to more serious abuse. And because adolescents' brains are still developing in the areas that govern decision-making, judgment, and self-control, they are especially prone to risk-taking behaviors, including trying drugs of abuse.

An addict needs treatment

Drug addicts need professional help and treatment to help them cope with these changes and possibly change the brain back to normal.

It is clearly in everyone's interest to rise above our moral outrage that addiction results from a voluntary behavior and get addicted people into **************. If we are ever going to significantly reduce the tremendous price drug addiction exacts from every aspect of our society, ************** for all who need it must be a core element of our society's strategies.

Understanding that addiction has such an important biological component may help explain an individual's difficulty in achieving and maintaining abstinence without treatment. Psychological stress from work or family problems, social cues (such as meeting individuals from one's drug-using past), or the environment (such as encountering streets, objects, or even smells associated with drug use) can interact with biological factors to hinder attainment of sustained abstinence and make relapse more likely. Research studies indicate that even the most severely addicted individuals can participate actively in treatment and that active participation is essential to good outcomes.

Steps to recovery include:

-Admitting you have a problem..some never make this first step and live in denial while getting sicker and sicker as time goes by. "I am Laura and I am an addict" was a very hard statement for me to make.

-Admitting that you have no control over narcotics and that they wil continue to control you as long as you keep them in your life. Also includes realizing that addiction never goes away, and if you use again ten years from now, the same pattern or cycle of addiction will repeat itself.


-Making a recovery plan and deciding how you will get clean.  These choices may include tapering, cold turkey (CT), suboxone, methadone, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to get clean, The right way is the way that works for you.


-Admitting to yourself that you need support and that you can not do this alone.  Many addicts never reach out for the support they need due to fear of discovery, the misconception that they can do this on their own, or excuses such as not having the time to squeeze aftercare into their lives.

-Making a plan for aftercare such as addiction counseling, support groups, or meetings which are free and located everywhere, be it NA or AA, the steps are still the same. During the first 90 days it is almost imperative that you attend some type of aftercare almost daily as most addicts relapse before the 90 day mark.

Remembering that we live and we learn, that we are not lepers, only ill and in need of therapy to get well, knowing we can function in society as responsible and drug free adults. and also remembering that addiction never goes away and we are always one step away from relapse, but with hard work and support, we can stay strong and positive on our road to recovery.

submitted by worried878

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May 02, 2009
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May 02, 2009
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