Drug Addiction as a Disease

drug addiction

Drug addiction is a chronic disease that involves compulsive drug seeking and using, despite its negative physical, emotional, and mental consequences in the body. 

We also consider drug addiction a brain disorder because it can rewire the brain’s functions and structure. Most drugs affect a person’s “reward system” causing euphoria and stimulating the brain’s dopamine neurotransmitter. 

Normally, the brain’s reward system motivates a person to practice healthy behaviors that can benefit the body. However, when a person takes drugs, the substance triggers a surge in dopamine, making the brain reward the action of using drugs—and motivating people to repeat the consumption. 

When a person continues to use drugs, the brain adjusts by reducing the response of cells in the reward circuit. This reduces the “high” felt by the body compared to the high it felt the first time the drug was used. This is known as tolerance and it can lead to a person increasing the dosage of the substance that they take. 


Reasons People Take Drugs


People take drugs for different reasons. A few of those are:

  • To feel good. Since drugs stimulate the reward system, it brings intense feelings of pleasure. Stimulants, for example, give people an irregular burst of energy, alertness, and even self-confidence. There is also that feeling of euphoria that is a common effect of drug use.
  • To relieve or relax. People who suffer from mental illnesses like anxiety or depression use drugs to divert those feelings and relax more.
  • To do better. Some people use drugs to improve their concentration and to keep themselves awake when performing tasks or work. Some people even take drugs to perform better in sports or other physical activities.
  • To satiate curiosity. Some people take drugs because of their peers and social pressure, or because they’re curious about what it feels like. Usually, young teens are prone to this behavior.

What Drug Abuse Can Do to your Body


Drug addiction can cause an overdose. This can happen accidentally or intentionally. The leading cause of death for Americans under 50 is drug overdose. 

Accidental overdoses usually happen when people take more of the substance than their original prescribed medication amount, or when the use of an illegal drug is too much because of the attempt to reach a certain “high.” Intentional overdoses occur when someone wants to commit suicide. If an overdose is accidental, it is a serious and tragic event with fatal consequences to a person and their families.

Aside from overdose, drug addiction causes many more negative effects in the body. These include:

  •     Cardiovascular disease
  •     Contracted blood vessels
  •     Heart rate irregularities, heart failure
  •     HIV, hepatitis, and other illnesses
  •     Respiratory problems (lung cancer, emphysema, and breathing problems)
  •     Abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  •     Kidney and liver damage
  •     Seizures, stroke, brain damage
  •     Insomnia, irregular sleeping habits
  •     Loss or extreme appetite
  •     Gastrointestinal problems
  •     Pancreatitis
  •     Malnutrition

Illegal Drugs


Different drugs have different classifications according to the chemicals they have. Illegal drugs are proven to be one of the most addictive and harmful substances in the spectrum. They include:

  •     Heroin
  •     Cocaine and crack cocaine
  •     Methamphetamine
  •     Bath Salts
  •     Methadone
  •     Ecstasy
  •     Marijuana
  •     LSD
  •     Mushrooms
  •     PCP

Prescription Drugs


Prescription drugs are often medication with powerful elements and chemicals, which is why a prescription from a doctor or a dentist is required. What’s dangerous about these kinds of drugs is that they can be obtained legally and have been used by all age-groups for non-medical reasons, sometimes with the consumption of alcohol. 

The misconception on the abuse of prescription drugs is that it is still safe because it’s legal and they’re medication suggested by doctors. However, in the United States each year, it’s been reported that more than half of the drug overdose deaths are caused by prescription drug misuse. In 2017 alone, over 33,800 people died from an overdose of prescription drugs.

The usual prescription drugs that are misused are:

  •     Opioid painkillers
  •     Benzodiazepines
  •     Stimulants
  •     Antidepressants
  •     Anti-obsessive agents
  •     Mood stabilizers



Alcohol is a drug. Although it is legal, alcohol affects many body systems. It creates a feeling of euphoria, lowers inhibitions, affects judgment and perception, and slows down a body’s reaction time. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and can cause severe damage to a person’s liver.

When alcohol is combined with other drugs, its effect on the body can be lethal. 

There are many forms of alcohol including:

  •     Beer
  •     Wine
  •     Liquor

Warning Signs of a Drug Addiction


Sometimes the telltale signs of drug addiction can be visible both physically and in a person’s behavior. However, sometimes the effects of drug abuse surface gradually. 

It’s important to be on the look-out for signs of drug misuse to address treatment and recovery in its earliest stages. 

Common signs of drug addiction are

  •     Intense mood swings
  •     Aggressive behavior
  •     Lack of time and motivation doing regular activities
  •     Paranoia
  •     Periods of confusion
  •     Irregular sleeping patterns
  •     Unusual talkativeness
  •     Overconfidence or reckless behavior
  •     Hiding of the substance
  •     Drop in attendance or performance at work or school
  •     Hygiene deterioration and appearance change
  •     Withdrawal symptoms like shakiness, tremors, seizures, nausea, or fatigue
  •     Craving and buying more of a particular drug
  •     Changes in appetite
  •     Hallucinations
  •     Acting out in personal relationships

Rehabilitation and Treatment


Although there is no definite cure for an addiction, there are treatments, therapies, and programs that can help a person recover. Integrated treatment is one of the effective therapeutic resources that can enable a person to heal physically, mentally, and spiritually from their addiction. 

Since there is no one cause for addiction and every person has multiple factors leading up to their situation, we must tailor treatment towards the rehabilitation of each individual.

After that, long-term support and therapeutic interventions must be applied. It’s important to seek doctors’ and medical professionals’ help to recover from an addiction safely and with support. It may be a long and hard process depending on an individual’s timeframe and use of drugs, but it is still possible to recover successfully. 

To learn more about how you or your loved one can be helped through drug addiction therapies, feel free to reach out through email at info@roots-recovery.com, call us at 562-304-9592, or visit us at 3939 Atlantic Ave #102, Long Beach, CA 90807, USA. 


Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. This blog aims not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.

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