Addiction Defined

By: National Treatment Solutions Network

According to Webster’s, Addiction is defined as-“the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized  tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly: persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful”. We accept addiction as taking many forms; alcohol, drug, cigarettes, sexual, gambling and food.

Illegal drugs that cause addiction.

Some of the illegal drugs relating to addiction are: cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, opium, ecstasy, marijuana, and hashish.

Legal drugs that cause addiction.

They are many and wide spread. The most common legal drugs sold in the world today are caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. There are drugs that relax or sedate, drugs that increase energy and drugs that change the state of awareness or perception. The legal stimulation drugs are amphetamines with brands names such as, Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, and Vyvanse. Keep in mind that caffeine is also a stimulant and considered a drug which is why it is forbidden from use by certain religions. Legal sedation drugs are: alcohol, opiates, tranquilizers and morphine.

One of the common addictive drugs popular today comes from the opiate family. Some of these are as follows: Oxycodone, OxyContin, Percodan and Percocet. The street names for Oxycodone and OxyContin are Blues or Roxy’s. Oxycodone is an analgesic medication synthesized from poppy-derived thebaine. It was developed in 1916 in Germany as one of several new semi-synthetic opioids in an attempt to improve on the existing opioids: morphinediacetylmorphine (heroin), and codeine.

Where did this addiction come from?

Most but certainly not all addictions begin slowly. Most people don’t start out taking heroin with needles when they begin their journey into drug use. Most addicts start out with “gateway” drugs. These “gateway” drugs can be as seemingly harmless as alcohol, tobacco or caffeine. A young person tries a beer, glass of wine or cocktail; likes the effects they feel and increases the amount with each use. Similarly, a young person studying for a test drinks cup after cup of coffee or caffeine stimulant to stay awake. Again they like the end result of apparent endless energy with no sleep and increase the amount with each use. As with anything, moderation is the key.

A phrase I hear from former addicts seems to tell the story with addiction. If you walk in slippery places there is a good chance you’ll fall.

Suddenly the social drinking turns into alcoholism and the use of caffeine stimulants for all night studying turns into an everyday occurrence. This person abusing caffeine talks to a friend or classmate about how the coffee just isn’t “doing” it for them anymore. The person drinking alcohol every day needs to “sober up” to drive home, go to school, go to work or whatever the cause. They talk to someone who introduces them to cocaine or methamphetamine “just this once and just to sober up”. Hence the “gateway” is opened for the introduction of any number of illegal stimulant drugs.

One of the problems with the legal drug addiction problem is that the majority of those addicted to these legal drugs are not prescribed them by doctors. They receive these drugs from many of the same sources as those who purchase illegal drugs. As much as we in the middle class suburbs refuse to believe, our upper-middle class children in their Polo shirts and Ralph Lauren jeans are driving to the “bad” part of town to purchase what we as adults were getting freely from our doctors for pain. Most of our children addicted to these pain killer, opiates began their journey of addiction from a legitimate use of the medicine. Some of our children began their addition by shopping freely from our medicine cabinets because most of the parents were so sedated by their medication that they didn’t realize that some of it was missing. The rest just become addicted by use, availability and misfortune.

What are some signs of drug abuse?

First you have to break the signs down into physical and behavioral. Both physical and behavior can show signs of drug abuse. How each individual behaves differs depending upon what drug they are addicted to, the cycle of the addiction they are in and of course, each person is different and might display different signs.

For the most part, however, signs of drug abuse include: slurred speech, dilated or contracted pupils, agitation, jumpiness or the inability to sit still and picking at their skin or clothing. Some secondary signs include: missed work or school, severe mood swings, depression or elation. Some signs that you as a loved one might experience from this persons addiction is: money or valuables missing from your home, the person being gone for several days at a time with no explanation for their absence, a change in the type of people they associate with or even knowing glances or comments from neighbors or other family members. As the loved one of a person abusing drugs we tend to ignore the signs we see on an everyday basis because we can’t imagine that it could be true.

There is also the cycle of the addiction-“High” and the “Withdrawal”. Physical signs of the “High” is euphoria, dilated pupils, disorientation and sweating. Physical signs of the “Withdrawal” are fever, cramping, muscle spasms, sweating, and etcetera. Because drug use causes real changes to the body the withdrawal of anything with long term use is real and can be extremely painful. Thus the individual will do almost anything to make the withdrawal symptoms go away. The behavioral signs can be depression, anxiety, mood swings, anti-social behavior, paranoia and anger that can range from moderate to outrage. People in the withdrawal cycles who are trying to get more drugs have been known to exhibit behavior that would have never even been considered before their addiction. Women and men have been known to sell their body for drugs or money to buy drugs, commit crimes against family members for money to buy drugs. People with clean records for all of their lives have been known to rob banks, steal from family members and turn “tricks” just to get more drugs.

The point to take away from this is that a person in withdrawal who is trying to get more drugs is not the person you think you know. This person cannot be considered a friend or beloved family member. You must consider this person an addict who will do or say anything to get drugs or to get the money to buy drugs. These people become master manipulators who can deceive even the most knowledgeable and educated into getting more drugs. Even doctors have been fooled for a short time by these individuals on the mission to find more drugs.