Alcohol / Drug Dependence

Alcohol and other drug dependencies are all too common in the United States. The term “dependent” is applied to individuals who take part in habitual, improper drug use because their bodies grow accustomed to and actually adapt to the continuous presence of drugs and need the drug to function normally. When a dependent body is deprived of a drug, negative physical symptoms of withdrawal occur.

There are two main types of alcohol or drug dependence. The first kind is physical dependency. This means that the body has developed a physiological reliance on a drug because it has caused changes in its natural state of being. Opiates, tobacco, and alcohol are common drugs that cause physical dependency.

The second kind, psychological dependency, affects a person emotionally and mentally rather than, or in addition to, physiologically. This develops from the memory of the sense of euphoria that the drug creates, causing a person to long for that feeling and think of it often. Cocaine and amphetamines are examples of drugs that cause very serious psychological dependencies.

Oftentimes, alcohol or drug dependency is due to a substance’s ability to stimulate pleasure in the brain and produce a false overall sense of well-being. When users become addicted to this feeling, they crave whatever substance can produce the feeling and abuse said substance.

The overuse of a drug leads to tolerance, which is a common result of dependency. Tolerance means that a person uses greater amounts of a drug to produce the same initial effect. Those who have developed tolerance to a drug also use greater amounts without appearing intoxicated.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why an individual develops an addiction and why a person first experiments with drugs. Sometimes, drug use starts out of curiosity or to see what kind of thrill can be achieved, while other times, peer pressure contributes to drug use as well as the desire to project a certain image. Addicts often use drugs as an excuse to avoid facing reality or problems in their lives.

There are also genetic and biological factors that contribute to the development of an addiction. About 50% of drug abusers also have some form of mental illness, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. People who have a family history of drug problems are more prone to developing one as well. Occasionally, a person is born with a genetic mutation which greatly increases the risk of drug dependency.

There are many paths to drug dependency recovery. Addicts often take part in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). In serious cases, a drug detox program may be required so that the person can receive medical attention. Drug dependency, despite being a very serious health issue, can be overcome.