What Happens When Someone Becomes Addicted To Drugs or Alcohol?
When alcohol or drug addiction occurs, it becomes extremely difficult for a person to quit taking drugs or alcohol on their own. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease with a psychological and chemical dependency on drugs, alcohol, substance, or behavior. A person with dependence and addiction will often continue toxic, dangerous habits, regardless of the negative consequences. Prolonged substance abuse can lead to a dangerous cycle of alcohol and drug addiction, in which a person needs to continue using the substance in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Many people with a substance use disorder are aware of it but have a difficult time stopping on their own without behavioral therapy and the help of professional treatment centers. The urge to continue using is so strong they will prioritize it over everything else in their lives.
The Brain’s Reward System
The science of addiction shows that addictive drugs activate the brain’s reward circuits by causing a surge of dopamine. When a drug and alcohol enter the brain, it artificially stimulates the brain’s reward system. These feelings encourage the “wanting” system and make the individual want to repeat the experience. Over time, the reward circuits become stronger and more compelling, causing tolerance and compulsive, addictive behaviors, and finally developing an addiction.
There are several factors that contribute to substance abuse and lead to addiction. Why someone starts using drugs or alcohol depends on their specific situation and circumstance. For example, the loss of a loved one may cause someone to drink in excess repeatedly or turn to drug abuse, which then develops an addiction. Several factors influence the risk of addiction and lead to addiction including:
- Problems within the family or relationship issues
- Traumatic experiences like physical assaults, sexual abuse, or even a severe car accident can greatly contribute to the development of addiction
- Genetic risk factors
- Abusing drugs or alcohol at an early age
- Lack of social connections or poor social relationships
- Environmental factors, for example being surrounded by substance abuse at work or at home
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Drug addiction is both a physical and psychological disease and symptoms show up for both. Some of the signs of substance use disorder include frequently intoxicated and/or hungover, as well as paraphernalia related to substance abuse. Behavioral changes may also indicate substance use disorder, which includes:
- Neglecting one’s appearance
- Loss of energy or motivation
- Problems with work or school, such as lateness or absenteeism, social dysfunction, and poor performance from taking drugs
- Performing risky behaviors while under the influence of alcohol and drug
- Stealing to get the drug and alcohol
- Withdrawal symptoms when stopping use
- Developing tolerance
- Spending excessive money on substance abuse
- Obsessing about the next dose, such as making sure they have a constant supply and worrying about the next source of the substance
- Lying about consumption habits, or getting defensive or aggressive when questioned about alcohol or drug abuse
- Compulsively taking the drug and alcohol or unable to stop usage
Different drugs have different signs of intoxication, side effects, and withdrawal symptoms. More specific signs and symptoms of drug abuse depend on the specific substance or substances being abused.
Addiction Treatment at The Detox Center of LA
Substance use disorder is a chronic illness that requires a professional treatment program that gets to the root and teaches skills necessary to deal with their own personal triggers in overcoming addiction. At The Detox Center of LA, our in-house detox drug rehab assists individuals in effectively and safely ridding the body of drugs and alcohol that have taken a stronghold over them. Our team of medical professionals creates an individualized treatment plan to manage each patient’s withdrawal symptoms as comfortably as possible while providing dual diagnosis treatment programs to help deal with behavioral addictions. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please give us a call now at (888) 346-4350. We are available 24/7 to help answer your questions about addiction treatment or help you get started on a treatment program.