Drug addiction is a complicated disease that overwhelms both
the addict and those who love him. After abusing drugs for a
period of time, the user becomes both physically and
emotionally dependent upon the drug. Understanding the
differences between drug abuse and drug dependence, and how
two relate to one another, is vital in helping the addict
recover from this devastating disease.
* Understanding Drug Abuse
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association,
provides definitions and criteria for making diagnostic
judgments relating to the use of drugs and alcohol.
According to the DSM-IV, the essential features of substance
abuse are a "maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested
recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the
repeated use of substances."
Drug addiction occurs when a person uses any form of drug for
purpose or in a way other than for what it was created. Most
commonly, drug abuse is associated with illicit, or illegal,
drugs, however, Drug addiction can also take place with
over-the-counter and prescription drugs as well.
Illicit drugs such as marijuana, heroin, and cocaine are
commonly abused drugs. Others such as nicotine and alcohol,
though legal, are also drugs that get abused. In addition,
people abuse prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are
meant to help people in some way, such as oxycontin and even
cough syrup. In this case, the drug addict does not actually
need the drug for its intended purpose. Instead, the abuser
chooses to use it in order to get high.
* Understanding Drug Dependency
The DSM-IV describes addiction as follows: "The essential
feature of substance dependence is a cluster of cognitive,
behavioral, and physiological symptoms indicating that the
individual continues use of the substance despite significant
substance related problems."
A person who abuses drugs is not necessarily dependent upon
drug, they will however, ultimately develop a dependency for
substance. The amount of time it takes for person to become
dependent on a drug depends on the individual and the type of
drug that is abused. For some people, abusing a drug just one
time can lead to dependency. For others, it may take several
incidents of abuse for a dependency to develop. In addition,
drugs such as alcohol and codeine often need to be abused
several times before dependency occurs. On the other hand, a
person may become addicted to heroin or cocaine after just one
A person who is dependent on the drug is considered to be
addicted. This is because the person feels the need to abuse
the drug in order to feel "normal." This dependence can be
either physical or psychological, or both. For example, a
person who is dependent upon cigarettes may be physically
dependent on the nicotine but also psychologically addicted to
having something in their mouth. They may also be
psychologically addicted to the feeling they gets after
a cigarette. Therefore, a person trying to overcome nicotine
addiction needs to overcome both forms of dependency in order
to fully recover.
* Drug Tolerance
Building a tolerance for a drug exacerbates both drug abuse
dependency. After using a drug for a period of time, a drug
addict requires more of the drug in order to achieve a high -
or even to feel normal. As a result, they need to abuse more
the drug in order to satisfy the dependency. This vicious
is what often leads to an overdose, or taking more of the drug
than the body can safely handle.
Unfortunately, addicts who overdose often do not receive the
medical help they need. They may be so addicted to the drug
that they cannot face the prospect of being forced to stop
abusing the it. It can also be because they are physically
unable to reach help or because they refuse to seek help. Many
will not seek help because they are afraid of getting into
legal trouble for drug abuse.
For a list of attorneys that specialize in drug related crimes
Sadly, failure to seek help often results in death for the
addict. Even those who do receive prompt medical attention may
not live past the overdose.
When an addict seeks help for drug addiction, they will have
endure a detoxification period. During this time, the addict
not allowed the drug any longer. Because the addict is
dependent upon the drug, withdrawal can very painful both
physically and psychologically.
Physically, the addict's body has become used to the effects
the drug. As a result, his body reacts adversely when it is
denied more of the substance. Physical withdrawal symptoms
from person to person and according to the type of drug
Common physical withdrawal symptoms, however, include severe
headaches, vomiting, shaking, and increased blood pressure and
Psychologically, an addict has come to depend on the drug to
cause a certain effect. This effect can be to relieve pain or
to bring about feelings of pleasure and the addict does not
believe it is possible to achieve these same feelings without
using the drug. This causes severe cravings and many addicts
feel a great deal of stress while going through withdrawal.
this reason, drug rehab centers provide close monitoring of
addicts during the withdrawal period.
If you or a loved one are in need of assistance you can search
a list of Califoria and International Rehab Facilities at
About The Author: The California Rehab Guide,
www.calrehabguide.com/ is a comprehensive list of drug
rehab and alcohol rehab facilities, a rolodex of Lawyers and
Interventionist, a dictionary of drug and rehab definitions
with articles on addiction recovery and addiction treatment.