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Drug Addiction - Treatment, Symptoms and Causes

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2023

What is Drug Addiction?

It is said that every person craves an addiction, just as a distraction to one's pain. Any substance that can alter an organism's bodily functions is termed as a drug. The more accommodating terms like misuse, harmful use, dependence, abuse were used to replace depressing and discouraging terms like addicts and addiction, with the hope of encouraging discussions and subsequently improving the existing condition. But, it's been to no avail, so far. If we try to reason out the causes of drug abuse and addiction, multiple layers of factors might come up. What needs to be understood is that the trigger to start drug abuse and the reason that leaves one unable to stop are quite different, and their difference defines the struggle of the life of a drug addict. While teenagers are undoubtedly the most vulnerable, several crucial factors can drive people of any age towards drug abuse.

Causes of Drug Addiction.

'Curiosity killed the cat” We live in the age of accessibility and information. This has let us in a stage, where no age is naive, and hence no one is immune.. Everyone is susceptible, as everyone knows.

Causes and factors affecting people agewise are:

Pre-adolescent age
  • an abusive childhood
  • negligence from parents or family
  • the family history of use
Adolescent age
  • peer pressure and attitude to rebel against the moral code
  • low self-esteem or Anomie
  • impractical relationships and teenage pregnancy
  • adventure and thrill derived from experimentation
  • stress to achieve and the subsequent fear of failing in a competitive world
  • fear Of Missing Out (FOMO Syndrome)
  • too concerned or interfering parents
  • Midlife
  • abuse or issues of the domestic realm
  • future planning and excessive stress in the work environment
  • escaping or altering the reality
  • marital frustration and sexual problems
  • co-morbidities (mental)
  • Elderly
  • the demise of near and dear
  • insufficient attention from family, caregivers
  • certain groups
  • very high or low earning socioeconomic groups
  • easy access - medical professionals
  • pressure to perform well consistently or amphetamines in students
  • Constant vigilance, idealism, loss of privacy, unscheduled work culture and stress in case of celebrities

What is the symptoms of Drug Addiction?

Cathryn Kemp had once stated that she used to think a drug addict was someone who lived on the far edges of society. Wild-eyed, shaven-headed and living in a filthy squat.

That was until she became one...

The above statement clearly describes the ignorant perception we, as a society holds towards drug addicts and how such falsification disrupts with self-diagnosis or realization.

To catch a close acquaintance abusing a substance, one needs to be very observant about the subtle changes in habits or behaviour.

General symptoms-
  • any sudden changes in behaviour, mood or grades (in case of students), forming patterned behaviour etc
  • inability to perceive pleasure in usually pleasurable activities
  • isolation and neglecting responsibilities
  • stealing and risk-taking behaviours
  • -
  • over justifications, aggressive comebacks and denial (DENIAL and RATIONALISATION are the most common defence mechanisms in Substance abuse).
  • Abstinence/Withdrawal symptoms-

    Most common withdrawal symptom is HANGOVER(a headache, irritability, anxiety and weakness), although, they become progressively worse with chronic use such as- tremor, irritability, flushing, feeling of impending doom and bowel- bladder problems, et cetera.

    It is to be noted that LSD AND CANNABIS, though powerful psychedelics, do not produce any withdrawal symptoms OD(overdose) symptoms-

    loss of consciousness, trauma, delirium, convulsions, coma and perceptual distortion


    Treatment of Drug Addiction.

    'In order to break out from prison, you must realize you are locked up”

    Acceptance, Insight and motivation form the pillars of successful treatment. Treatment methodology can be broadly classified as follows:

    classified into two-
    1. treatment involving acute intoxication - resuscitation and antidote administration are the sought after procedures under this method
    2. dependence based chronic rehabilitation:- this can be done by
      • Pharmacotherapy like methadone or naltrexone for opium; amantadine for cocaine; nicotine patch and bupropion for smoking; disulfiram for alcohol etcetera
      • Behavioural therapy (best) – this is inclusive of expert counselling, Alcoholic Anonymous or other group therapy, supported by family coordination.

    Prevention to avoid Drug Addiction.

    'you become what you fear, and escape what you face” Primary prevention (also called source reduction)-

    Illicit drug production, trade, smuggling and distribution must be put under strict Law enforcement.

    India is predisposed to drug abuse due to its geographic proximity to major drug routes - Golden triangle and Golden crescent in the east and west respectively. Ideal would be to highly attentive toward youth, along with spreading general awareness while media had been responsible to some extent for the glorification, and hence acceptance of drug use in the name of societal acceptance to taboo the reverse can also be done, with proper media

    Risk Reduction

    Initiating a conversation about risks, consequences and disadvantages among highly susceptible groups such as children, along with a caring, yet strong motivation to abstain can be helpful. Close vigil even at the sight of the slightest deviation from normal behaviour is recommended.

    Withdrawal symptoms of Drug Addiction.

    Drug withdrawal is the group of symptoms that occur upon the abrupt discontinuation or decrease in intake of recreational drugs.

    The withdrawal symptoms may be drastic if the individual is suffering from any other underlying conditions such as sleep deprivation, anychronic disease, etc.

    Some of the common withdrawal symptoms from drug addiction may include nausea, respiratory distress, anxiety, dilution of concentration, etc.

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    Written ByDr. Praveen ChaudharyMBBS,PGD IN ULTRAASONOGRAPHY,Non invasive cardiology course,MD - MedicineInternal Medicine
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    Reviewed ByMS Anjali KanojiaMA Applied PsychologyPsychology
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