Drug addiction is a serious condition that affects millions of people every year. When a person has a drug addiction, she may think that everything in her life is fine, and that she has the addiction completely under control. She may also think that the addiction is helping her achieve some of her goals. The reality of addiction, though, is that it often consumes everything in a person’s life, causing the person to focus only on continuing the addiction. As a result, many people with addictions become unable to do everything that they want to do. Addiction can be a huge roadblock that gets in the way of some people reaching their potential.

 

Definition of Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines drug addiction as “a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her.” It also explains that the chemicals in drugs affect brain chemistry and the way the brain functions. Specifically, drugs change the brain’s communication system by either mimicking the brain’s neurotransmitters or causing the brain to release too many neurotransmitters. Over time, both of these effects on the brain can make it difficult for the brain to properly produce neurotransmitters on its own.

 

Characteristics That Can Lead to Drug Abuse and Addiction

While it’s possible for anyone who uses drugs to develop an addiction, some people are more prone to both drug abuse and addiction. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explain that people who are more likely to abuse or become addicted to drugs exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Suffering from a mental health condition such as an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, or schizophrenia
  • Being able to access drugs easily
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Struggling with relationships
  • Experiencing high amounts of stress

Living in a culture where drug use is widely accepted can also make some people more prone to using drugs and developing an addiction.

 

Stages of Drug Addiction

The NIH also explain that drug addiction usually develops over time through specific stages:

  • Experimental use: the person uses the drug occasionally and around other people.
  • Regular use: she begins using the drug on a regular basis and changes habits and behaviors to accommodate her drug use.
  • Daily preoccupation: the person focuses more on the drug than anything else in her life, and may begin using other drugs.
  • Dependence: she becomes unable to function without drug use, but denies that a problem exists; her physical condition also worsens, and her relationships with loved ones are severely damaged.

Once dependence sets in, the brain’s reward system has literally been rewired to need the drug just to function normally. The addict is no longer driven by the desire to get high, but feels as is she needs the drug just to get through the day.

 

Effects of Drug Addiction

As these stages suggest, a person with an addiction has a hard time leading a productive life and achieving the goals she set for herself before the addiction began. Instead of being able to reach her potential, she might struggle with any number of problems. The Mayo Clinic lists several of these possible addiction-related problems:

  • Physical and mental health problems
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Contracting a communicable disease from needles or unprotected sex
  • Accidents
  • Suicide
  • Conflict in relationships
  • Work- or school-related problems
  • Legal issues
  • Financial struggles

Addiction affects multiple aspects of a person’s life. It changes the way her brain functions and the way she interacts with other people. When a person is struggling with an addiction, she is not functioning at her full ability, and as a result is unable to perform many important tasks in her life. In order to regain control of her life and reach her full potential, she must stop using the drug and get help with her addiction.

 

Get More Information about Drug Addiction and Reaching Your Potential

If you or someone you love is dealing with the negative effects of drug addiction, please give our toll-free helpline a call today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to discuss treatment options and help you find a rehabilitation program that works best for you. Call us right now to find out more.