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Swami Swasthya Kendra and Deaddiction Research center

Kind of Addiction

ABOUT ADDICTION
“Addiction is defined by tolerance, withdrawal, and craving. We recognize addiction by a person's heightened and habituated need for a substance; by the intense suffering that results from discontinuation of its use; and by the person's willingness to sacrifice all (to the point of self-destructiveness) for drug taking. “

If a person takes a drug often enough, the brain will make changes so that it can handle all the extra chemicals that are being put into it. In an attempt to adjust, the brain tells the neurotransmitters to slow down the release of certain chemicals in the pleasure circuit. As a result, normal levels of chemicals are too low. When that happens, a person becomes depressed. The person will then take more of the drug in order to feel better. The drug addict will temporarily feel better. The extra chemicals from the drug again tell the brain to stop producing its own chemicals, which further reduces normal levels. When the drug wears off, the addict feels even worse than before. This is called withdrawal. The person then craves more drugs to help him feel better, and the cycle starts all over again. The human body has a system of checks and balances that keep us from being too happy, too sad, too stressed out-too anything. In a way, it's as if we have an electrical circuit board in our brain that determines how much of various neurotransmitters we need in certain situations. When it gets the signal, the brain then produces the correct amount. Drugs and alcohol act like a power surge, overloading the brain with chemicals. Just as an electrical power surge can blow up a computer or turn off all the lights, drugs cause problems with the chemicals in our brains. This causes addiction, in which the brain can, no longer function without a drug.

Most people who become addicted to drugs follow a similar pattern of addiction. First, they experiment with drugs. People start to take drugs for many reasons. They may try drugs because of pressures at home, an ache or pain, coaxing from friends, or curiosity about how a drug will make them feel. Their tolerance increases. The more of a chemical they use, the more of that chemical they will need to get the same effect. They may have blackouts. There may be times when they do not remember what they did when drinking or using drugs. An addict will avoid talking about drugs or alcohol. As the addiction develops, they try to take attention away from anything that will point it out. They become preoccupied with drug use. Spending time thinking about drugs, plan their drug use carefully, and choosing friends based on drugs. Addicts blame others and make excuses for their drug use. They may even cause fights as an excuse to drink or drug. All control of drug use is lost. They cannot control how much is used and are unable stop from taking more. An addict may feel weak or think that they do not have willpower. The drug use affects family, friends, employment, and education. It may destroy the addict's relationships and abilities to handle even the simple life tasks. The addict may have medical, legal, or emotional difficulties or problems. The addict will lose hope. As the addiction gets worse, they may feel as though there is nothing they can do to stop it. The addict will feel as if life has lost it's meaning or is not worth living.

Common Drugs of Abuse

People abuse drugs, both legal and illegal. Many of these are physically addictive, and all have the potential to be psychologically addictive. Prescription drugs have medicinal value and are legally prescribed by doctors to cure illness and treat diseases. "Street drugs" such as Crack, Cocaine, Heroin, and Methamphetamine have no medical use and can only be sold illegally. Other drugs, such as nicotine and alcohol, while having no medicinal value, are sold legally because they are endorsed by society. Drugs can be classified and put into groups according to the effects that they produce in the brain.

Stimulants

Stimulants act on the central nervous system. Common stimulants include cocaine, crack (a form of cocaine that is smoked), and prescription amphetamines such as Dexedrine, Ritalin and Benzedrine, also a powerful illegal amphetamine called "Methamphetamine" is a potent stimulant of the amphetamine class of drugs, and is usually illicitly manufactured and sold in powder, liquid, or tablet form. Normally mixed with various cutting agents (the purity varies), Methamphetamine is the most commonly abused member of the amphetamines. Stimulants can make a person irritable, overly aggressive, and nervous. Because they keep the user awake, they often lead to insomnia (the inability to fall or stay asleep) and sleep depravation. Stimulants may also cause nausea, headaches, sweating, and mild shaking. People addicted to stimulants often take these drugs in binges. They take large amounts for periods of time, and then stop for a while. Binges are common because the effects of the drugs don't last very long. Frequent doses are needed to keep a high going.

Depressants

Depressants slow down the central nervous system. Prescription depressants include barbiturates, such as Seconal and Phenobarbital; and Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax. Doctors prescribe certain depressants, such as Valium or Xanax, to help people relax or sleep. Taken in larger doses, depressants can make a person act drunk. Common side effects include slurred speech, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, and memory loss.
Alcohol is one of the most widely used legal, addictive drugs. Even though it can make a person seem relaxed and happy, alcohol is actually a depressant. In fact, it can depress the activity of the central nervous system so much that, when a person is really drunk, he or she passes out. Brain damage, memory loss, sleep disorders, and the possibility of seizures are potential problems associated with alcohol addiction. The liver and heart are also affected, as are the stomach and the intestines.

Narcotics

Narcotics, or opiates, are usually derived from the opium poppy. Narcotics include Morphine, Codeine, Opium, and Heroin (smack). Doctors for use as painkillers prescribe some kinds of narcotics, including morphine and codeine. These drugs, however, are highly addictive, and doctors should monitor their use very closely. People who abuse narcotics often want to numb themselves to the rest of the world. They may act as if they are in a dream and cannot accurately perceive reality. There are also several forms of legal artificial opiates that are highly abused such as Demerol, Dilauid, Percodan, Darvon, Vicodin, and Oxycontin. Regardless which drug is used or abused they all are painkillers and produce the same affect and have the same high potential for addiction.

 


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