Drug abuse: Causes, symptoms and warning signs
People abuse drugs for different reasons. When used long-term and repeatedly, drug use can develop into a habit and cause dependence that can eventually lead to an addiction. Continued drug use can also develop drug tolerance among its users along with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, making it harder to quit drugs and stay sober. Unlike other diseases, drug addiction often begins voluntarily and is progressive. Often used as an experiment, an escape from reality, or simply to relax and unwind, the consequences of drug use are often worse than the reasons they were initially taken for. In addition to having a negative impact on a person’s health and relationships, drug addiction has an enormous impact on the society and the environment. Some of the common causes of drug addiction include environmental factors, including socio-economic factors, biological factors, including one’s gender and ethnicity, and developmental factors, including earlier drug use.
Drug addiction can cause behavioral, psychological and physical changes in a person. The symptoms of the problem vary, depending on the drug being used and the duration of its use. Though signs of addiction vary on a case-by-case basis, some of the common signs of drug addiction include confusion, anxiety and depression, hallucinations, delusions or paranoia, violent outbursts, nausea and drowsiness, sweating, and tremors. Additionally, drug addiction is also characterized by a desire to continue drug use despite its negative consequences, problems in personal and professional life, and chronic health issues that often worsen with drug misuse and abuse.
Women and drugs
In 2014, 15.8 million American women (aged 18 years or above) had used illicit drugs with 4.6 million having misused prescription drugs in the past year. Compared to women, men are more likely to use any kind of illicit drug. However, women are more susceptible to drug cravings and relapse. Though men may seem to be more upfront about their drug use among their peers, women usually find it difficult to talk about their drug use and may want to avoid judgment.
Women who have higher probability of misusing and abusing drugs are those grappling with domestic violence, sexual or physical abuse, divorce, trauma, death of a loved one or loss of a child, or any mental health disorders. Some of the other reasons behind drug addiction are hormonal imbalance, pregnancy, irregular menstrual cycle, menopause, pain, weight problems and self-treating mental health disorders.
Owing to the complexity of drug abuse among women, extremely addictive nature of drugs, and intense withdrawal symptoms, it is often recommended to avoid going “cold turkey” and instead seek professional drug addiction treatment for women at certified women drug rehab clinics.
Getting help for drug abuse
When left untreated, drug addiction can have serious and often long-term consequences, including problems with one’s overall health, one’s relationships and the law. Recovery from drug addiction may seem easy, but in reality it is a complex process that needs professional help. After getting dependent on drugs, suddenly stopping them may cause severe withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, seizures and even death.
Similar to any other life-threatening illness, treatment for drug addiction needs to be sought at a certified drug addiction treatment facility under professional care. Depending on a case-by-case basis, treatment for drug addiction can vary in duration and can take many different forms. A comprehensive treatment for drug addiction may involve a holistic combination of detoxification (medical or natural), psychotherapies, and experiential therapies.
Detoxification, the first step in addiction treatment, helps clean the system and prepare the body for further treatment. While detox gradually flushes out the poisonous substances from the system, medicines help control the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. After a successful detoxification, an individual undergoes intense psychotherapies and counseling that not only help identify the underlying causes of drug addiction, but also help provide an individual with the necessary tools to maintain sobriety after the treatment.