What are the common symptoms of drug addiction?
Symptoms of drug and prescription abuse can take many forms and will affect multiple areas of a person’s life: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual. Examples of these symptoms include:
- Physical: changes to sleeping patterns, energy levels, personal hygiene, and weight
- Psychological: feelings of guilt, defensiveness, powerlessness, and depression about the substance use
- Social: diminished performance at work/school, withdrawal from activities, and avoidance of responsibility
- Spiritual: moral lapses including lying, cheating, stealing, and breaking promises
In addition to these symptoms, drug addiction will also result in some form of impairment. These factors include:
- Ignoring problems in the body or mental state that result from drug use
- Significant craving of the substance, despite its effect on work, school, family, etc.
- Prolonged involvement in drug use, beyond its original intent
- Elevated tolerance, resulting in increased need for more of the chemical
- Withdrawal symptoms when drug use is halted
What causes drug addictions?
While some people can take prescribed medicines for years and avoid addiction, others might get “hooked” immediately. Similarly, segments of our society are more prone to drug addictions than others. What makes the difference in these groups?
Ultimately, we respond to the effects of drugs and medications because of how our brains function.
In the prefrontal cortex and other inner workings of our brains, there are pathways of neurotransmitters that provide a risk / reward system for our survival. When all is working well, our brains provide a healthy balance between risky behavior and the rewards that they provide. In other words, our brains give us the ability to resist actions and behaviors that we know have hazardous consequences. However, when the brain malfunctions, or certain chemicals are low, our internal system of governance fails; and we are prone to lose our self-control. This dysfunction in our brain can even push us toward undesirable behavior in order to receive the reward that it provides.
While the primary source of addicts’ problems lies in the brain, other elements, such as genetics and environmental factors, also contribute toward drug addiction. Studies also show that addictions strongly correlate with other mental health conditions, including:
- Attention deficit disorder
- Bipolar disorder