Deciphering Drug Addiction

Compulsive use of a drug like cocaine, despite its negative or dangerous effects, is called addiction. However, a person may be physically dependent on a substance without having an addiction. Like medicines to control blood pressure are not addictive but they do cause physical dependence. Drug abuse can lead to drug dependence or addiction. Tolerance to a drug is usually a part of addiction. Drug abuse may be a result of peer pressure, stress, anxiety, depression and emotional weakness.

Addictive drugs include opiates and narcotics that are powerful painkillers like heroin, opium, codeine etc; Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants like cocaine, amphetamines etc; CNS depressants like Alcohol, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines etc; Hallucinogens like LSD, mescaline etc; Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in marijuana (cannabis) and hashish. Drug use normally starts as experimental use of a drug that takes the form of regular use, turning into a habit of daily consumption and slowly the stage of dependence is reached.

The typical behavioral symptoms of drug dependence include confusion, inability to stop drug intake, missing work that reduces performance, secretive behavior and reduced diet. Some serious complications of addiction may be drug overdose, depression occurrence of cancer, HIV infection, problems with memory/concentration and unsafe sexual practices. Stopping drug use and staying drug free consciously is the best treatment to get rid off the menace of addiction. Counseling, psychological intervention and medication are all important components of treatment that restore normalcy in the lives of persons once misled by circumstances.

All psychiatric and psychosomatic disorders ranging from Schizophrenia Bipolar Affective Disorder and Manic Depression to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and even drug addiction occur due to a breakdown of the neuronal machinery. The hallmark of these pathetic illnesses that render their victims a prey of odd/disturbed thought processes is the interplay of several chemical signals, in the form of neurotransmitters, as they are produced in abnormally high or low levels which in turn transmits wrong messages to and fro in the neural networks.

A peep inside the human brain can reveal amazing facts about its electrical activity and blood flow through its various parts, as this marvelous organ of intellect responds to stimuli. Any changes in its proper functioning thus come to light that may be responsible for a mental sickness. Thanks to modern medical technologies, it is possible to map and monitor the brain’s activities to ascertain the cause of altered brain functions.

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