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HomeHealth articlestobacco cessationDrug Abuse and Addiction: A Treatment Plan

Drug Addiction: Why Does It Occur and What Can We Do About It?

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Drug Addiction: Why Does It Occur and What Can We Do About It?

4 min read


Drug is addictive and the person cannot withdraw from it. This article discusses addiction and evidence-based treatment approaches.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At November 27, 2014
Reviewed AtMarch 26, 2024


People from all phases of life can experience issues with drug usage regardless of age, race, or the reason for which they started using the drug. Drug addiction does not necessarily have to be illegal drugs. Even prescription drugs like painkillers, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers can lead to drug abuse and addiction. One of the most common and unfortunate addictions that affect millions of people a day is drug addiction. Drugs affect different people differently. A person takes a drug yet never gets addicted, while another person gets hooked on the drug.

Drug abuse and addiction are now clubbed together as a substance or drug use disorder.

Drug dependence is on a high and is seen as the new age epidemic. Around eight percent of people in America experience this at some point. Addiction affects not just the body but it has a great impact on mental health and soundness of mind. It is considered to be one of the most severe health issues faced around the world and is termed a chronic disease.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is characterized by an uncontrollable desire to take the drug (craving), along with compulsive drug seeking that persists despite devastating consequences. It refers to a condition in which one cannot resist the urge to use them no matter how much harm the drugs may cause.

Addiction has far-reaching health and socioeconomic consequences. Drug abuse and addiction increase the individual's risk for a variety of other psychiatric and physical illnesses. Certain people are typically more vulnerable than others to develop drug dependence, and this depends on the interplay between genetic makeup, the age of exposure to drugs, and other environmental influences.

What Are the Signs of Drug Addiction?

  • The person keeps taking the drug even after it is of no use for the health condition.

  • The person keeps taking the drug to experience the effects of the drug.

  • The person is not able to stop the drug even if they want to.

  • The individual gets a strange feeling or shaky or depressed feeling when the drug wears off. In severe cases, the person can even experience fever or have seizures.

  • The person keeps thinking about the drug, about when to take it, or how to get more.

  • The individual would have lost interest in things they loved to do.

  • Feeling sad or low always.

  • Having trouble doing the routine and regular activities.

  • Trouble getting along with people.

  • Excessive sleeping or not being able to sleep or sleeping at strange hours.

  • Eating a lot more or a lot less than before.

  • Tremors or shakes.

  • Frequent nosebleeds.

  • Slurred speech.

Some eight frequent signs of drug addiction are

  • The continuous runny nose is usually seen in cocaine addiction.

  • Occurrence of seizures and tremors.

  • Reduced physical coordination.

  • Highly lethargy.

  • Continuous chemical odor on the clothes.

  • Pointed pupils are seen in opioid and heroin addiction.

  • Bloodshot and watery eyes.

  • Alteration in weight.

The symptoms differ based on the type of drug. Some of the signs and symptoms of drug addiction caused by taking illegal drugs like marijuana, cannabis, and hashish include:

Drug Dependence, a Disorder of the Brain Circuit:

Several brain areas are included in the genesis of addiction. But, the nucleus accumbens is the most studied target. This brain structure is involved in the reward and motivation pathway. Drug dependence is not a moral weakness but a disorder of the brain circuitry. Drug addiction is a complex illness.

People want to take more and more drugs as they feel intoxicated after using the drugs. And over time, the brain is changed by the drugs. The brain becomes desensitized to the drug, wanting more of the drug to produce the same effect.

How Is Drug Addiction Treated?

  • Effective treatment programs typically involve multiple components, each directed to a particular aspect of the illness and its consequences.

  • Individualized treatments focus on maintaining a drug-free lifestyle and achieving productive functioning. Clients require continued long-term care to achieve abstinence from drug usage.

  • A few evidence-based interventions, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and motivational enhancement therapy (MET) remain the cornerstones of addiction treatment.

  • In addition to these interventions, some approved pharmacological interventions include Methadone maintenance therapy and Buprenorphine maintenance treatment for opioid dependence, Naltrexone drug therapy after medical detoxification, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for tobacco cessation.

  • Bupropion and Varenicline are the FDA-approved agents for smoking cessation.

  • The agents that have been approved for alcohol dependence include Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram. All these agents should be administered under the guidance of a psychiatrist.

  • The behavioral interventions include CBT, contingency management, community reinforcement approaches, matrix models, and 12-step facilitation therapy.

  • A holistic approach would also entail family-based interventions. Multidimensional family therapy involves working on decision-making, negotiation, and problem-solving skills.

Can Drug Addiction Be Prevented From Relapsing?

There are high possibilities for a person to fall back into the same pattern of addiction. Once a person starts using it again, it is very hard to control it. Here are a few steps one can follow to keep oneself from getting addicted again:

  • Strictly follow the treatment plan even if one feels one has recovered. One can visit one’s therapist or counselor regularly to stay drug-free.

  • Avoid going to areas where one purchases these drugs.

  • Indulge oneself in recreational activities so that one does not get to remember the drugs.

  • Get immediate help if one starts over the drug again.


Drug abuse and drug addiction are preventable. Confronting one’s addiction can be the most challenging thing one has ever done, but one does not have to do it alone. One can involve one’s family, friends, or loved ones to help one stay away from drugs. If one does not feel good asking one’s family or friends, there are several self-help groups to help one overcome the toxic cycle of drug addiction.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Causes Drug Addiction?

When a substance is used repeatedly, it seems to alter how the brain experiences pleasure, which is when physical addiction seems to happen. Some brain neurons undergo physical alterations as a result of the addictive substance. Neurotransmitters are substances that neurons utilize to communicate. After the person stops consuming the drug, these effects may continue for longer.


How Can Drug Abuse or Addiction Be Stopped?

Although there is not a single or surefire strategy to stop someone from taking drugs or alcohol, there are certain things that can be done-
- Setting a target date or quit date.
- Changing the environment.
- Distractions.
- Avoiding temptations and peer pressure.
- Creating a support network.
- Keeping a well-balanced life and examining the risk factors.
- Seeking professional help.


What Causes Addiction the Most Frequently?

A few factors like peer pressure, early drug exposure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and parental supervision significantly impact a person's likelihood of using drugs and becoming addicted.


What Are the Reasons for Teen Drug Abuse?

The following factors contribute to drug addiction in youths -
- Peer pressure.
- Social media.
- Influence of culture and society.
- Curiosity.
- Desire to use drugs and be themselves.


What Impact Do Drugs Have on a Person’s Life?

Drug addicts frequently have one or more comorbid medical disorders, such as lung or heart disease, stroke, cancer, or mental health issues. In addition, blood tests, chest X-rays, and imaging scans can all reveal the detrimental effects of chronic drug usage throughout the body.


What Are the Top Four Impacts of Drugs?

The four main effects of drug addiction are -
- Seizures.
- Stroke.
- Brain damage.
- Mental confusion.


Why Is It So Hard to Stop Relapsing?

People frequently relapse for stress-related reasons. It is likely that someone used drinking or drugs to try to deal with the stress they experience daily. This may involve difficulties at employment, relationship challenges, or simply readjusting to life following therapy.


How Is a Relapse Prevention Plan Designed?

A relapse prevention plan is a detailed action plan with suggestions for coping with cravings and stress-related triggers. The plan can be modified and expanded as time passes, and circumstances change.


Do Relapses Happen Frequently?

There is a possibility that an individual will relapse at some point, regardless of how carefully they pursue their recovery or how dedicated they are to getting sober. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that 40 % to 60 % of those in recovery experience relapse. In addition, many people suffer feelings of guilt or regret following a relapse.


When Do Relapses Typically Happen?

According to research, most relapses occur within the first 90 days of abstinence. Thus it may be best to enroll in a treatment program that lasts at least three months.


What Recovery-Related Red Flags Are There?

The red flags of recovery must be assessed since, without awareness, a person can find themselves on the verge of relapsing. They are as follows -
- The person stops going to meetings or gatherings.
- They return to old behaviors.
- They start isolating.
- Easily get resentful.


What Are Some Warning Signs and Triggers to Prevent Relapse?

The common triggers and warning signs include -
- Unfavorable feelings encourage drug use (anxiety, despair, guilt, fear, frustration, stress, and loneliness).
- Exposure to drugs of addiction.
- Social or peer pressure.
- Friends, places, or activities that the addict associates with using drugs.
- A feeling of well-being (having a good time and hoping to get even better).
- Using other drugs. For instance, a recovering heroin user who continues to consume alcohol is more likely to relapse).


What Is the Initial Phase of Addiction Treatment?

Usually, detoxification comes first in a therapy plan. Limiting withdrawal symptoms and removing a drug from the body are involved. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), medicine is used to lessen withdrawal symptoms in about 80 % of cases.


Are There Any Medications for Treatment of Addiction?

Although none of the drugs has been FDA (The United States Food and Drug Administration) approved to treat teenagers, some drugs have been demonstrated to be beneficial in treating opiate, alcohol, or nicotine addiction in adults. Naltrexone and Buprenorphine are two of the most popular drugs used to treat addiction.
Dr. Alok Vinod Kulkarni
Dr. Alok Vinod Kulkarni



drug dependencetobacco cessationdrug addictionmotivational enhancement therapy
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