Drug Addiction
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Learn about the causes of Drug Addiction & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Drug Addiction within New Zealand.

Therapies which may benefit Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is a compulsive use of a substance or substances despite severe medical and social consequences. Although there may be a desire to stop, it is extremely difficult to quit.

 

Causes of drug addiction

The causes of drug addiction depend on a number of factors such as the type of drug being abused and the circumstances under which the drug is being used. Certain drugs are taken under prescription for specific medical conditions while others are used illegally for recreational purposes.

Some drugs can become physically addictive such as painkillers or sleeping tablets. Over time, the body becomes tolerant to the medication and more drugs are required to achieve the desired effect. Once the body stops receiving the drug, withdrawal symptoms are experienced which can be detrimental to health and in rare cases can be fatal. Other drugs have a psychological effect leading to cravings.


Why some people are more prone to drug abuse and addiction is unclear but genetics may predispose certain people to addiction. For others, the effects of taking a drug for a prolonged period (such as for a medical complaint) leads to the addiction.


Peer pressure, low self-esteem and emotional trauma can also lead to a reliance on drugs as a coping mechanism. Discovering what motivates someone to take drugs is often the key to treating their addiction.

 

Symptoms of drug addiction

Drug addiction can have various symptoms depending on the drug that is being abused. The majority of addictions begin with social use, or in the case of prescription drugs, low-dose usage. As the drug becomes a habit over time, the frequency and dosage increases to achieve the desired effect.

Eventually, the drug is a necessity to induce feel-good emotions or relieve pain and at this point it is difficult to function normally without it. Stopping the drug can lead to cravings and physical illness (withdrawal symptoms).


Common symptoms and behaviours of drug addiction include:

  • The need to take the drug regularly
  • Failed attempts to stop taking the drug
  • Always having a supply of the drug
  • Buying the drug even when finances don't allow it
  • Feeling that the drug helps you cope with problems
  • Anti-social or risky behaviour while under the influence of the drug
  • Focusing too much time and energy on acquiring and using the drug
For teenagers, there are a number of indications that may suggest drug use. These include:
  • Poor school performance or skipping classes
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Loss of interest in their appearance
  • Behavioural changes
  • Money problems (stealing or requesting extra money)
There are particular signs that someone is abusing a drug and these will depend on the type of drug being used.

In the case of cannabis abuse, the signs of dependence can include:

  • Memory deterioration
  • Red eyes
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Lack of concentration
  • Increased appetite
  • Poor reactions
  • Paranoia
Prescription drug addiction is commonly caused by drugs used for anxiety known as benzodiazepines or opiate painkillers.

Common benzodiazepines, or tranquillisers, include diazepam (valium), alprazolam (xanax), lorazepam (ativan) and clonazepam.


Signs of dependence include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Impaired memory
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Low blood pressure
Narcotic painkillers, known as 'opioids' include codeine, heroin, morphine and oxycodone. Symptoms and signs include:
  • Pain reduction
  • Sedation
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Needle marks (if injecting the drug)
Illegal drug addiction commonly involves amphetamines (ecstasy, speed), methamphetamine ('meth') and methylphenidate (ritalin).

Common signs of abuse and addiction include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling euphoric
  • Speed talking
  • Restlessness
  • Low mood (during 'comedown' from the drug)
  • Sleeping difficulty
  • Weight loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • High temperature
  • Paranoia
  • Nasal problems (congestion, bleeding) from snorting drugs
Drugs called 'hallucinogens' such as LSD and PCP have very distinct symptoms and signs. Signs of LSD usage include:
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Altered sense of reality (hearing, vision)
  • Flashbacks
  • Shakes or tremors
Signs of PCP use include:
  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria
  • Panic
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite

Inhaling substances such as glue, paint thinners and petrol causes intoxication and a loss of inhibitions but the long-term effects can lead to brain, kidney and liver damage. In some cases, inhaling these substances can be fatal.

 

Diagnosis of drug addiction
If you believe you have an addiction to a drug then seek medical help as soon as possible. Good indicators that you have a drug addiction include:
  • Inability to stop using the drug
  • Drug use is leading you to risky behaviour (needle sharing, unprotected sex)
  • Withdrawal symptoms when stopping the drug
The earlier you get help the better your chances of recovery. In the first instance, visit your GP who will assess your physical and mental health. The GP may refer you to a mental health specialist to help you understand your reasons for abusing the drug.

For many people, seeking help is the most difficult step and therefore family or friends may need to intervene.


Drug abuse can cause serious medical problems which need emergency treatment. If you, or someone you know:

  • Takes an overdose
  • Falls unconscious
  • Struggles to breathe
  • Suffers a seizure
  • Has chest pain
  • Suffers physical or psychological reactions
Then you should call emergency services immediately.


*Source: GoToSee.co.uk



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