Some of the terms that are associated with drug use can be confusing to people and many teens are misguided about the use of prescription drugs and over the counter medications. For example a lot of people think that detox means recovery and that substance abuse treatment is a cure for addiction.
Prescription drugs aren't illegal so a lot of teens and young people think they're safer than street drugs and not dangerous to experiment with to get high. They don't realize that they're just as dangerous as illegal drugs, some are very addictive, and when misused can lead to death. Some of the terms that seem to be confusing to some people include the following.
When an individual misuses drugs or other substances they're either intentionally or accidentally using them. Most of us at one time or another has taken medications without reading or thoroughly reading the directions and took them incorrectly. It's also very common for older adults to misuse medications without realizing it. Unfortunately today many people make the choice to purposely misuse prescription and over the counter drugs to get high.
Drug abuse is a personal choice to use either illegal or legal drugs with the intentions of getting high and altering their behavior. Some people think that if a person uses drugs or other substances to get high, they're addicted to them but this isn't true. Drug abuse and drug addiction are not the same thing, many people abuse drugs but aren't addicted to them. Unfortunately drug abuse can lead to drug addiction though.
Addiction is described as a brain disease because drugs alter the way your brain works. Changes that take place in the brain due to drug abuse are very serious and can last for a very long time. In chronic heavy drug users sometimes these changes are permanent and affect the individual throughout their life.
Drug addiction takes place from repeated use of drugs or other substances over time. Depending on the drug and extent of use, addiction can take place in a short period of time. When an individual is suffering from drug addiction they experience uncontrollable and compulsive cravings for the substance. The individual is no longer using the drug just to get high they're using the substance to get through the day. When the individual is unable to use the substance they're addicted to they can experience withdrawal symptoms that are sometimes very uncomfortable. They need to use the substance again in order to function normally and relieve the uncomfortable and sometimes serious symptoms of withdrawal.
Steps to Drug Addiction
The first step toward addiction would be experimental drug use. A lot of people experiment with for example marijuana and then try other substances until they find a drug that produces the feelings and experience they're looking for. To avoid addiction to illegal drugs a person should never try them to see what they're like. To avoid addiction to legal drugs like prescription medications a person should never experiment with them to get high, never increase their dose on their own if they're taking them legitimately, and never combine them with other substances.
Regular use is the second stage, the user isn't experimenting anymore they begin to use their drug of choice more often and whenever they can. After using a drug of choice regularly the individual begins to be preoccupied with thoughts of using and their behaviors and priorities begin to change. Tolerance to the drug of choice is beginning to take place, the individual needs to increase their dose and sometimes use more often to satisfy their euphoric high because their body has become tolerant of the amount used in the past. With continued use the individual becomes addicted to the substance and can no longer control their thoughts or behaviors. They're unable to get through the day without using because of the mental and sometimes physical need for the substance. Addiction is not only sad and serious; it destroys the individual mentally, physically and spiritually.
Some people think that you have to be addicted to a substance if you're physically dependent on it but this isn't true. There are certain types of medications people take that causes physical dependence like blood pressure pills but they're not addictive. On the other hand, drugs like cocaine cause addiction but don't cause physical dependence.
Psychological addiction can be very hard to deal with. When a person is suffering from psychological addiction they're craving the use of a drug or substance psychologically and emotionally and it's extremely common with drug addiction. This is why treatment, therapy, counseling or support groups are so important after detoxification. Individual's that are recovering from addiction need to change the way they think about drug use and change unhealthy behaviors and that's not easy to do without help and support. Learning positive ways to cope with stress, cravings and relapse are crucial for your mental health, physical health and long term recovery.
A lot of people are misinformed when it comes to detoxification and think once the substance gets out of their system they're either cured or they can recover on their own. This may be true for some occasional drug users but not for individual's suffering from frequent drug abuse or chronic addiction. When an individual suffers from drug addiction they also need treatment for the psychological and emotional consequences their addiction has caused not just the physical symptoms. Without follow-up treatment when detoxification is completed most people start using again and sometimes, right away.
People also get confused when they talk about abstinence from drugs or alcohol thinking abstinence or sobriety is recovery. Abstinence or sobriety just means the individual is refraining or abstaining from the use of alcohol or drugs.
Life Style Changes
Another misconception people have is that they can stop using drugs or alcohol and tuff it out without changing their lifestyle. They think they can continue to be around people, places and things associated with their past drug use and that all they need is willpower to stay abstinent. If only it were that easy. In order to maintain abstinence, avoid relapse and have a long term successful recovery important changes have to take place in a recovering addict's life. It's extremely hard to make these changes on your own but with the right treatment program, therapy or support system and determination you can achieve happiness, control and freedom with a new lease on life.
Many people think recovery from drug or alcohol abuse or addiction means they're cured but this isn't true either. There is no cure for addiction, there's healing and recovery from drugs or alcohol abuse and definitely life after addiction. With support, treatment, determination and positive coping skills a recovering addict can have a happy and fulfilling life but they will always have to maintain their recovery.