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Alcohol & Drug Research - Addiction Information

Alcohol & Drug Research Drug abuse and alcoholism come in many different shapes and forms. Part of treating the addiction and helping others stems from educating individuals on the nature of alcohol addiction, drug abuse and what it takes to rehabilitate from these substances. The research aspect of the Cirque Lodge web site was created to provide specific addiction information on specific types of drugs of abuse and alcoholism. Much of research offered stems from information released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

What is Drug Abuse?

Drug abuse and addiction are two different but related concerns. Abusing drugs does not necessarily mean a person is addicted. A drug addiction is formed when changes are made to the brain in ways that fosters the need for constant use. Habitual abuse of illicit or prescription drugs is an indicator of addiction. A drug addiction also brings with it a number of other physical, emotional, social and psychological problems.

When a person takes a drug it has different interactions with the brain. Most commonly it imitates a brain's neurotransmitter system resulting in a feeling of pleasure or euphoria. The natural reward system in the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine. Some drugs imitate this sensation. Other drugs release an abundance of dopamine creating euphoria. People use drugs to experience these sensations. It is this sensation that contributes to continued drug abuse and ultimately addiction.

Illicit Drugs and Substances

Substances that contribute to drug abuse can vary, but usually the public thinks of the more illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine. All these different drugs have different interactions with the brain and body. Stimulant drugs heighten senses and increase body functions (cocaine and methamphetamine). Depressants do the opposite by slowing down the system and body functions. Common depressant drugs are heroin and prescription painkillers. Marijuana and similar drugs are called cannabinoids and affect different aspects of the limbic system (memory and cognitive functions)

The following table breaks down a number of illicit or street drugs that are commonly abused. Also listed are common street names, the mode of intake and its classification.

Name Common Street Names How its Used Classifciation
Cocaine coke, blow, sugar, snow snorted, smoked, injected Stimulant
Crack (rock cocaine) rock, crumbs, hail, gravel smoked, injected Stimulant
Crystal Meth ice, glass, crystal smoked, injected, snorted Stimulant
Heroin H, junk, tar, smack, dope injected, smoked, snorted Depressant
LSD acid, blue heaven, cubes swallowed Psychoactive
Marijuana weed, grass, mary jane, bud smoked, eaten (mixed with food) Cannabinoid
MDMA ecstasy, molly swallowed, snorted Psychoactive
Mephedrone bath salts swallowed, snorted, injected Stimulant
Methamphetamine crank, chalk, meth, speed swallowed, snorted, smoked, injected Stimulant
PCP angle dust injected, snorted, swallowed, smoked Psychoactive
Synthetic Marijuana spice, k2 smoked, eaten (mixed with food) Cannabinoid

Prescription Medications

Prescription drug addiction is a growing concern in society. Many of the drugs we take each and every day have substances in them that can be habit forming. Cases of hospital visits and treatment episodes for prescription medications have grown hundreds of percentage points in recent decades. Prescription painkillers contain a synthetic opioids like hydrocodone or oxycodone. The brand names of abused painkillers include: Percocet, Lortab, Vicodin, and Oxycontin amongst others. Benzodiazepine drugs are used to treat anxiety disorders. Stimulant medications are used to help people focus or give them energy. These drugs are also addictive and can result in substance abuse and dependency.

The following table breaks down the many different kinds of medications and their brand names. When used for the right reasons, these prescriptions are miracles. However there are still ingredients to their makeup that make them more addictive and likely to be abused.

Prescription Opioids
Medication Type Associated Brand Names
Codeine Robitussin, Colrex, Tylenol 3, Soma
Fentanyl Actiq, Duragesic
Hydrocodone Vicodin, Lortab, Loricet
Morphine Duramorph, Roxinol
Oxycodone OcyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Roxicet
Prescription Depressants
Barbiturates Nembutal, Luminal
Benzodiazepines Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Limbitrol
Sleep Aid Ambian, Lunesta
Prescription Stimulants
Amphetamine-based Adderall
Methylphenidate-based Ritalin, Concerta

What is Alcoholism?

Struggles of Alcohol Abuse Even with the many drugs that are abused, alcohol is still the biggest problem faced by this world when it comes to substance abuse. Much of this has to do with the legality and availability of it. Reports vary, but estimates of those in the United States with an alcohol problem are between 17-20 million individuals. Even with treatment for alcohol addiction being readily offered in most communities, a small percentage of these individuals actually seek out treatment for their struggles.

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are different entities entirely. A person can abuse alcohol on occasion and not become an alcoholic. When concerns should arise is when this abuse is more frequent, or cannot be controlled. Alcohol abuse can lead to alcoholism. Alcoholism is when the body and mind have become physically dependent on drinking to maintain normal function. To halt drinking would create withdrawal symptoms that can be life threatening if not properly treated. Further information is provided on alcohol addiction.

What is the "Addiction Disease" Concept?

The disease concept is an often discussed and debated aspect of chemical dependency and substance use disorders. It is a debate that has been around for decades. The concept itself states that the habitual use of these harming addictive substances can result in developing disease-like characteristics of a chronic, often relapsing disorder. The argument is that addiction is not a disease, but one of poor choices, bad behavior or moral failing. This debate has contributed to the development of a number of problematic stigmas by the public at large regarding alcoholism and drug problems.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls drug addiction "a chronic often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences...Similar to other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, drug addiction can be managed successfully. And with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon for a person to relapseā€¦" NIDA: Understanding Drug Addiction

The approaches to treating substance use disorders come down to this concept and vary on the provider. The majority of programs work upon a recovery-oriented system, which means two things. First, treatment is based upon the disease model. Second, that it's structure is usually on the 12-step program created by Alcoholics Anonymous. There are still other programs available to help individuals outside of the disease concept as well. Research has shown that it takes many different approaches and interventions to help an individual address their addictions. What it really comes down to is making sure that the treatment is available and personalizing treatment to meet those individual's needs.

Breakthroughs in Research

Much research and additional studies is being done when it comes to alcoholism and drug abuse. This research can lead to breakthroughs in how we treat substance use disorders and behavioral health. With technology the way it is nowadays many studies are being done and things like medications are being developed that address craving and withdrawal. Hopefully, these breakthroughs and developments can be a means to treating those that struggle and finding more definitive treatments that leads to higher success rates. We will continue to offer this addiction information to those who come to our site.

If you are seeking treatment for yourself or for your loved one, the research section also provides information on the Cirque Lodge program in treating specific drugs of abuse and alcohol. For further answers to your questions regarding our alcohol and drug rehab center, please call 1-877-99-REHAB.