Drug and alcohol addiction is an ongoing physical or psychological compulsion
to do, take or use something, despite negative consequences

(Psychiatry.org. 2017. What Is Addiction? [online] Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction)

Effects of Drug and Alcohol addiction

During addiction of drug and alcohol, the individual ingests more of a substance than they would like, often continuing the action despite harmful consequences that it may have on their life. With continued use the individual’s thinking is affected so much that they believe it is impossible to live life without the substance.

People with addiction intensely focus on alcohol or other drugs so much that it can completely take over their lives. This intense focus is a result of the massive amounts of dopamine released into the brain which creates feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and euphoria. This in turn alters the brain chemistry to want more of the drug or alcohol and results in less pleasure in activities the addict once enjoyed. Fortunately, effective treatments do exist.

Some side effects of addiction include low self-esteem, shame, fear, anger, and guilt. These feelings create an endless cycle of despair wherein the feelings that surface due to the substance abuse, make the individual less able to cope without the substance. Negative consequences often extend well beyond the individual, to families, friends, surrounding community, work, police, and other legal implications.

In 2018, the number of people who died from a drug overdose, was far greater than the amount of people who died from a road accident.

The changes incurred in the brain by drug and alcohol use can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is a “relapsing” disease – people in recovery are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.

It is common for a person to relapse, but relapse does not mean that treatment does not work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patients changing needs.

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