Some may think that when an addict uses drugs it is through personal choice or the result of weakness. This is certainly not the case. Any level of addiction is a serious problem and can be extremely difficult to overcome. The body has become dependent on the drug and the user has lost all control. This dependency means, left to their own devices, an addict might never be able to stop using. Without the correct support and treatment, the many dangers associated with addiction will develop. Rehabilitation centres are designed to aid recovery and prevent these dangers, some of which I have detailed below.
All drug addictions have health risks. Although some have more than others, any untreated drug abuser will experience the slow decay of their physical condition. Even after a short period of time a drug user might suffer from both physical and mental symptoms such as: vomiting, dizziness, mood swings, weight loss and paranoia (just to name a few). The difference between a user and an addict is that the drug addict will continue to use regardless of noticing these effects. Without treatment, these health issues can only get worse.
It gets worse
An addict does not just submit to needing a drug on a regular basis. It is the dopamine, the ‘happy hormone’ released when taking a drug, which controls when and how much they want. The more a drug is used, the more tolerance the body builds and the less dopamine is released every time. If an addiction remains untreated, the sufferer will begin to crave more and more of the drug each time they use. They may even have to use a combination of drugs to reach the same dopamine levels. Continued and increased use magnifies the dangers to the sufferer’s health and can lead to death.
Everyone has heard the horror stories linked with drug use. Drug users may think “It will never happen to me,” but the frequency which an addict uses drugs is simply increasing the possibility for an accident. Some drugs, such as heroin administered by needles, bring the risk of contracting HIV/ AIDS and Hepatitis C. As drug strength and quality is not controlled, overdose is a danger every time they are used. Being caught in possession with illegal drugs is always a risk to frequent users and leads to court proceedings, fines and imprisonment. One more use may be one use too far so it is beneficial to seek treatment at any level of addiction.
Relationship and career effects
Drug addiction can seriously change a person’s values. Over time, dependency on drugs means they become more important than family and career responsibilities. It is common for addicts to be intoxicated during work or absent from work, affecting their performance. They may begin to care more about using than building and maintaining relationships, causing families, partnerships and friendships to break down. Drugs cost an abuser a large part of their income meaning they are unlikely to be able to support a family. A person’s whole life can collapse under the strain of addiction and a reluctance to go to rehab.
What the addict doesn’t see
Detoxification or going “cold turkey” will not cure an addiction. In the majority of cases, there are underlying issues which cause an addiction and allow it to continue. This may be depression, a history of abuse, low self esteem or any number of things a sufferer may not realise is the reason for their misuse of drugs. Rehabilitation centres help the sufferer build new interests and ways to deal with their emotional pain. They do not just force them to stop using. Trying to resolve an addiction on their own, a sufferer may never overcome these core anxieties and is more likely to spiral back into using.
No matter how addicted somebody is, how long can they run the risk of not asking for help? Addiction is always a downward spiral and, if left to develop, can lead to the breakdown of lives and death. Hopefully it is now clear that it is never too soon for treatment.
This is a guest contribution by Nick L. Nick has a wide range of interests, but is currently focused on heal based issues. More specifically, Nick is fascinated by addictions and the rehabilitation that combats them. For more information on rehab, read here.