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Understanding Drug Addiction

Man Struggling with Drug Addiction For individuals and families seeking help for drug addiction at Cirque Lodge, the first question they ask is sometimes: "How do I know if my son (daughter, husband, wife, etc.) is addicted to alcohol or drugs and is in need of alcohol or drug rehab treatment? Addiction to alcohol or a specific drug is fairly obvious to spot if one knows what to look for. When you call Cirque Lodge, you are put in touch with an actual member of our staff that will help you assess your situation. We can help you determine the severity of the substance abuse and whether an alcohol or drug rehab program is needed at our facilities at Provo Canyon or Sundance Utah. We will also provide as much information we can about you or your loved ones specific needs for drug addiction treatment.

Definition of Drug Addiction

For a general definition we can say that drug addiction is the compulsive use of certain drugs to the point that the user has lost the ability to cease using the drug. The relative addiction of each drug is different in terms of its chemical compound and also varies from person to person. For example, a drug such as codeine requires more exposure to form an addiction than does cocaine or heroin. Alcohol is also classified as a drug, and similar to codeine requires more frequent use to become addictive. One person may also be more psychologically or genetically predisposed to drug addiction than another, and this may not be known until after the person is addicted and in need of a drug rehab program. Learn more about the signs of drug abuse and addiction

Addiction to a drug (including alcohol) usually has two separate components: a psychological and a physical dependency. From a psychological standpoint, an addict uses drugs to kill or mask pain, to feel pleasure, or to relieve stress. From a physical perspective, a drug addict uses to feel "normal". Over time, the body has become so used to the presence of the drug that without it the person will begin to have withdrawal symptoms.

What is Drug Abuse Really?

Drug abuse is when a person will continually turn to different types of drugs to get high, or to feel a desired effect. For prescription drugs, abuse is defined as taking medications that are not prescribed to you, or using them in a manner they are not intended. The abuse of drugs does not necessarily mean addiction. However, this behavior can over time lead to a chemical dependency, and in most situations is a strong indicator of an addiction. This can manifest itself in different forms of behavior.

What Causes Addiction to a Drug or Alcohol?

It is generally accepted addiction is biological in nature. Addiction to a drug is believed to be created by a changing of the brain's reward functions. The part of the brain that is affected is responsible for behaviors such as eating, exercise and social interaction. When the drug hits this portion of the brain, known as the mesolimbic dopamine system, excessive levels of dopamine are released causing a general feeling of euphoria, or otherwise called a "high". Over an extended period of time, these short-term "highs" can create long-term effects. As the brain experiences these periods of greater than normal dopamine release, the resultant brain reactions become more severe.

Continued use of the drug causes the drug user to use more and more of the drug to have the same level of pleasure, until the use of the drug dominates the normal day-to-day life experiences. Finally, the drug completely takes over the persons rational thought processes, and life cannot continue without the use of the drug. Within a drug addiction center, cognitive and behavioral therapies are used in addressing these changes to the brain's chemical structure to get that individual back to a level of normalcy.

Different Drugs, Different Reactions

Each drug has a unique effect on the body. Heroin reacts differently than cocaine and even with marijuana addiction. Some drugs are classified as depressants. Examples of this drug class include alcohol, benzodiazepines, prescription painkillers, morphine, and methadone. These work by mimicking endorphins that are produced naturally by the body. This drug class relaxes the body and relieves pain. Another general drug class includes stimulants. Examples of this drug class include amphetamines and methamphetamines ("meth"), cocaine, nicotine and caffeine.