Drug Addiction

man attending psychotherapy session for drug addiction

What is drug addiction?

Addiction, generally speaking, is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences (definition from the American Society of Addiction Medicine). Those who suffer from drug addiction, also called “substance use disorder,” find themselves repeatedly abusing illicit drugs or prescription medications.

Habitual drug use and abuse ultimately stem from the way our brains process pleasure.  Dysfunction in our brains changes the way we respond to impulses and can hinder our ability to resist harmful activities that generate pleasure.

Side view young woman looking away at window sitting on couch at home. Frustrated confused female with drug addiction issues

Who is affected by drug abuse?

Anyone can be caught in the trap of habitual drug use. You, your child, your spouse, your neighbor, your boss, your friend, and even your pastor can fall victim to dependence on drugs. In fact, you probably know someone who is facing an addiction right now, even if you are not aware of it. Recent statistics show that drug addictions affect:

  • Adolescents (aged 12-17) ~ 1 million
  • Young adults (aged 18-25) ~ 5.1 million
  • Adults (aged 26-64) ~ 13.6 million
  • Senior adults (aged 65 and over) ~ 1 million

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:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Trauma

How do you treat drug addictions?

Every patient is different. However, there are some general treatment options that have proven successful for drug additions. At Bridgepoint, our thorough process will determine the appropriate treatment – or combination of treatments – to address your unique situation. Some of these strategies include:

  • Detoxification – A carefully monitored detoxification process is often a first step toward healing for drug addicts.
  • Therapy – Whether individual or group/family therapy, sessions with our trained physicians provide the support and education to cope with addictions and break the bonds that keep you from a healthy lifestyle.
  • Medications – Some prescriptions can be effective in re-balancing chemicals in the body and eliminate the addiction.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Usually associated with behavioral addictions, we can sometimes re-train the brain to break out of drug addictions as well.


What do I do if I know an addict?

Compassionate support is always encouraged for anyone with a mental health or addiction problem. However, initiating healing sometimes requires this support to be firm and direct.

We encourage you to contact our professional staff for a prompt and discreet interview process that will help us assess the true nature of the concern. From there, we will work with you to develop a course of action to start the healing process.

We understand the carnage that drug addictions can cause in families. Don’t wait until it gets worse – call us today to take control of the situation and begin your healthy restoration.