A drug addiction is a complex mental disease and, after prolonged abuse, will take more than willpower to quit. Many believe that a drug addiction comes from lack of self-control, whereas in reality, after a first hit or high, drugs will alter brain chemistry, making it harder to abstain from further drug abuse. This also makes it harder for friends and family to know how to help a drug addict.
What is a drug addiction?
A drug addiction is a chronic disease often characterised by irrational behaviour to attain drugs, and is difficult for the user to control. Even after addicts realise they have a problem and want to quit, or their health, financial, or emotional condition deteriorates substantially, they will still find it quite hard to abstain.
At first, users may choose to take a drug because of social pressures, curiosity, or because they want to try it; the decision is generally voluntary for most people. Repeated use will then lead to brain changes, which will challenge users’ self-control and restrain their ability to resist urges to retake the drug.
After prolonged drug addiction, a user’s brain chemical systems will alter, and they will have difficulty with memory, judgement, and their ability to learn. Biological and environmental factors can increase the risk of becoming addicted to drugs, meaning some people are more likely to develop an addiction after less use.
Signs of drug addiction
Drug abuse and addiction can affect people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and statuses. Different drugs will have different symptoms and side effects, and the majority will produce noticeable side effects:
Physical symptoms of a drug addiction
- Abrupt weight changes
- Bruises or infections around entry sites (if a drug is injectable)
- Bloodshot eyes or a change in pupils
- Change in skin colour
Some symptoms and signs of a drug addiction may not be as visible to the user or others around them:
Psychological and behavioural symptoms
- Changes in mental health
- Changes in general behaviour, personality, or attitude
- Easily irritable or aggressive
- Changes in lifestyle choices and daily routine
- Financial difficulty
- Willingness to engage in criminal behaviour
How to help a drug addict
To begin recovery, addicts need to undergo a thorough assessment by a doctor or psychiatrist to ensure their medical and personal condition is understood in full. After this, the process of detoxification can begin, and the addict can withdraw from the drug in the safest and most pleasant way possible. We design our drug detoxification programmes to ensure that patients experience a reduction in not only drug cravings, but also withdrawal symptoms, so they can withdraw from their dependency without harm, all whilst being supported in their detoxification.
A treatment for a drug addiction isn’t a cure, and detoxifying the body from drugs is not a cure for drug addiction. After clearing the body of drug residue, we will work on the causes of the dependency and address the beliefs, emotions, and compulsions that resulted in the dysfunctional behaviour and the beginning of the addiction in each patient. To help a drug addict and aid a full recovery, a complete change in thought processes will have to be adopted, alongside effective coping mechanisms.
For more information on the treatments services offered by Charterhouse Clinic for drug addiction, please visit our drug addiction treatment page.
Where necessary, Charterhouse Clinic can arrange emergency admissions to accommodate those at high risk of overdose or in sudden crisis.
If your enquiry is urgent, please call 01327 340 990 or 0808 123 0222. Pre-planned admissions for drug detoxification and those ready for recovery can be arranged here.