WHITE HOUSE RECOVERY & DETOX
Drug addiction affects many individuals in the United States. Substance use disorders affect over 20 million Americans over the age of 12. Since 2000, there have been over 700,000 overdose deaths in the US. 1
If you suppose you might have an addiction and want to know for sure, it is crucial to understand addiction and how it is different from substance abuse and drug and alcohol dependence. Additionally, there are signs and symptoms specific to drug addiction that can help you take the first step to recovery and identify your addiction.
Drug addiction is characterized by chronic and compulsive drug seeking and using that is extremely difficult to stop, even with adverse consequences. Addiction occurs when drug use functionally alters circuits in the brain involved with reward, stress, and impulse control. These changes can persist even after an individual stops using drugs.2
Drug addiction is also referred to as substance use disorder. It can include addiction to recreational drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine and addiction to harder drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine.3
Addiction sometimes begins with the experimental use of drugs in social situations. Other times, especially with opioids, addiction can start with exposure to medications that a doctor has prescribed to the individual or a friend or relative.3
At first, someone may take a drug because they like how it feels. These individuals often believe they can control how much of the drug they use and how often they use it. Eventually, the drug changes the functioning of their brain. These changes can lead to the inability to control the use of the drug and other damaging behaviors.4
The risk of developing addiction and how fast an addiction occurs can depend on the drug used. For example, individuals who use prescription opioids have a higher risk of addiction and become addicted more quickly than those who use other drugs.3
Addiction is comparable to any other disease, such as heart disease, as they both disrupt a bodily organ’s normal and healthy functioning, have serious harmful health effects, and are usually preventable and treatable. If any disease, including addiction, is not treated, it can last forever and even lead to death.2
When identifying whether someone is dealing with an addiction, it is essential to understand the differences between substance abuse, drug, and alcohol dependence, and addiction.
Substance abuse refers to an action rather than a condition. It is a medical term that describes a pattern of drug use that causes significant challenges and distress. Substance abuse can lead to negative impacts to work or school attendance and performance, using a substance in dangerous situations, legal problems, issues with friendships, and family relationships. 5
Substance abuse occurs when someone uses a substance too much, too often, or in the wrong way.4 Substance abuse includes the abuse of illegal substances, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, and legal substances, such as alcohol, nicotine, or prescription medication.5
Many individuals who have substance abuse problems can quit or modify their use when faced with significant challenges as a result of substance abuse. Individuals with an addiction are often unable to do so, regardless of the consequences. 4
Drug dependence is different from substance abuse and addiction as it refers to the physical or chemical dependence upon a substance. Drug dependence is usually a symptom of addiction but does not encompass the entirety of what addiction is.6
When someone uses drugs of dependence, they alter their brain’s chemical makeup and affect neurotransmitters that send signals from one part of the brain to another. Most of the neurotransmitters impacted by these drugs are the ones that create feelings of pleasure or reward, like dopamine and serotonin.7
When the brain’s pleasure centers are triggered, the brain is signaled to repeat the activity that created those feelings of pleasure. Drugs of dependence hijack the brain’s reward system, causing the individual using a substance to want more and more of it.8
Eventually, the brain gets used to the extra dopamine created by using a specific substance, and the body needs more of the drug to achieve the same pleasurable feeling they once did. This phenomenon is referred to as tolerance.4
Once someone develops a tolerance to a substance, their only options are to take more of the substance more frequently or come off of it entirely and allow the brain to return to its natural state. Unfortunately, when someone has developed a dependency upon drugs or alcohol, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the substance. 9
Withdrawal symptoms vary based on the type of substance used and how long an individual has experienced a dependence upon that substance.
Typical symptoms of withdrawal include: 10
Someone with a drug or alcohol dependence may experience additional withdrawal symptoms and will not always experience all of the symptoms listed. Symptoms will also vary depending upon what substance the individual uses. Withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days up to several weeks. The severity of symptoms depends on how long the individual used the substance and how much they regularly use it.10
Many factors set drug addiction and drug dependence apart. While drug dependence refers only to the body and brain’s reaction to repeated substance use, drug addiction encompasses much more, including dependence. 6
Unlike drug dependence, drug addiction is a diagnosable medical condition. It is a disease, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Addiction occurs when an individual compulsively uses a substance regardless of any negative consequences they may experience as a result.9
It is challenging for someone with an addiction to achieve and maintain sobriety. However, attending a treatment program and continuing care afterward can increase someone’s likelihood of staying off the substance for good.
Someone with an addiction may have developed a dependence upon a substance; however, the term drug dependence does not encompass all that addiction does, including the significant difficulty someone struggling with addiction experiences when attempting to stop using a substance. 9
Understanding some of the most common signs and symptoms of addiction can help determine if you are suffering from an addiction. If you determine that you are experiencing any combination of these signs and symptoms, it is essential to reach out to a mental health professional and seek treatment as soon as possible.
Someone with an addiction will usually have made at least one unsuccessful attempt to stop using a specific substance. The desire for this substance overcomes any desire to stop using it for good. 11
Individuals suffering from addiction often use more of a substance than they originally intended to. This type of use can lead to an overdose. Unfortunately, this consequence is not always enough for someone to make the decision to stop using the substance. 11
Drug addictions usually come with cravings for the substance. Someone with an addiction will spend thinking about and planning their drug use. They begin to spend more and more time and energy trying to get and use the drug of their choice.11
Someone with a drug addiction will often prioritize acquiring the substance they are addicted to over other essential and necessary purchases, such as rent and food.11
Drug addiction can cause individuals to stop engaging in activities that once brought them joy in favor of their drug of choice. Other once enjoyable activities stop bringing the individual the same joy and fulfillment they once did. It is often difficult for someone with an addiction to enjoy any activity they used to enjoy without feeling the effects of the substance of their choice.11
Someone with an addiction may engage in risky behaviors, such as trading sex or stealing money for drugs or the drugs themselves. Drug addiction may also cause someone to drive while under the influence. Someone under the influence will often drive fast, dangerously, and sometimes violently.11
An individual with an addiction will often continue using substances even after developing related illnesses. Substance use can cause serious health problems and mental conditions that vastly impact the quality of life. Regardless of these consequences, someone with an addiction will prioritize using over recovering from illnesses.11
Drug addiction can lead to interpersonal issues between individuals with addiction and their friends and family members. The person with an addiction often prefers to do so alone and prioritizes their use over these important relationships.11
Individuals with a drug addiction may find it challenging to carry out daily responsibilities with family and friends and at school and work. Family members and employers begin to see them as unreliable due to their inability to show up or perform.11
The excessive drug use characteristic of a drug addiction creates an increased tolerance as the body experiences reduced effects of the substance over time. These reduced effects generate the necessity for the individual to take more and more to get the same good feeling they once did from using smaller amounts of the substance.11
When an individual with a drug addiction experiences significantly low levels of the substance they use, they will experience certain uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include cravings, sickness, irritability, restlessness, sweats, and other symptoms. In these instances, the only way to alleviate these symptoms is to use more of the substance. 11
After taking the addiction self-test and reading through the symptoms of addiction, you may have determined that you are suffering from addiction. If this is the case, it is crucial to seek treatment for your addiction as soon as possible. Treatment options include: 12
White House Recovery offers a well-rounded treatment program for individuals who suffer from drug addiction. This recovery center combines traditional modes of therapy, such as talk therapy, with experiential modes of therapy, like art therapy and music therapy. Treatment at White House Recovery is tailored to individual needs and aims to identify a sense of purpose for each individual.13
Music therapy is an essential aspect of the recovery journey offered at White House Recovery. This type of therapy includes music creation and mastery of equipment and software, which are valuable tools in learning how to perform well at any job. 13
White House Recovery has its own recording studio that offers every piece of equipment necessary to produce, edit and upload music and videos. The recording studio helps facilitate the use of music to gain inspiration and engage in the healthy expression of emotions. White House Recovery believes in finding inner strength and purpose through its music therapy program and recording studio. 13
DON’T WAIT TO MAKE THE MOST IMPORTANT CALL OF YOUR LIFE
Fentanyl is a common drug used to treat chronic pain caused by disability, injury, or illness. You do not have to keep living with the effects of a substance use disorder. Get help today by calling or speaking with a medical professional or contacting White House Recovery and Detox. Successful recovery starts with the first step. Take control of your future by getting the support you need and deserve. Successful treatment for fentanyl addiction takes place every day, and we believe everyone deserves a second chance.