Although drug abuse begins with a conscious decision to experiment with a substance, research has found that drugs interfere with normal brain functioning and can cause long term effects on brain metabolism and activity.
Drug addiction is an uncontrollable craving that needs treatment to overcome. Drug addiction usually consists of physical dependency and psychological dependency. Physical dependency means the body has become accustomed to the drug and withdrawal symptoms will be felt without it. Common withdrawal symptoms include sweating, tremors, insomnia, vomiting and headaches. Psychological dependency means the mind relies on the effects of the drug and its absence will initiate cravings.
Types of drugs
Addiction can affect anyone and both legal and illegal drugs can be addictive. Quite often individuals experimenting with drugs are unaware of the full effects of that particular drug and the problems it can cause. How addictive various drugs are differs between substances and also between individuals. Drugs are often categorised by the effect they produce as stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens:
Stimulants are drugs that increase the activity of the central nervous system and often give feelings of greater confidence, alertness and energy. Cocaine, ecstasy, nicotine, amphetamines, alkyl nitrites and anabolic steroids are all stimulants.
Depressants are drugs that reduce the activity of the central nervous system and usually cause impaired judgement, coordination and balance. Alcohol, solvents, heroin, tranquillisers and barbiturates are depressants.
Hallucinogens alter perceptions of reality and change the way individuals experience the world through their senses (often causing users to see or hear things that are not real). LSD, cannabis, ketamine and magic mushrooms are hallucinogens.
Causes of drug addiction
There are many reasons why individuals may abuse drugs and these reasons will be different for different people. Some of the common reasons are:
- peer pressure
- the need to experiment
- the belief that drugs may help to solve problems
- enjoyment of the effects.
Treatment for drug addiction
The type of treatment will depend on the individual and the drugs involved and no single treatment is appropriate for all individuals. Counselling and psychological support, medication and substance-abuse rehabilitation centres are common treatment methods.
Hypnotherapy can be useful during the post withdrawal phase of treatment. The hardest part of recovery is often staying off of the drugs after the initial treatment period and hypnotherapy can be used to reinforce positive changes to break the addiction. Hypnotherapy can also help an individual to learn new behavioural responses to live without the addiction.
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