Like other addictions, drug addiction is a disease. Of course, an addict will probably not admit it because, let’s face it, you have to admit you have a problem before looking for solutions. It usually starts with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations and before anyone can say “jack”, you use it more frequently. It will get to a point where you can literally not function without indulging in the so-called experimental drugs.
Drug addiction has destroyed lives. Most of the beloved international music stars have met their waterloo due to drug addiction. It also seems to be an epidemic in Nigeria among the youths, especially in this trying period in the country’s economy and security. Therefore, it’s important to talk about drug addiction, what it means, its dangers and solutions on how to overcome it.
What is drug addiction?
Mayo Clinic defines drug addiction as a disease that affects a person’s brain and behaviour and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medicine. It is also called substance use disorder. Substances include alcohol, marijuana, crystal meth and nicotine. In Nigeria, the popular drugs are tramadol, cannabis, heroine, amphetamine-type stimulants, cocaine and crystal meth also known as mkpuru mmiri among the Igbos.
Being a drug addict usually starts with experimenting and then becomes frequent full-scale use. Addiction varies depending on the drugs. At first, you may experiment to get high. As time passes, you take drugs just to feel good. Before you know what’s happening, you can’t function without these drugs. Symptoms include:
- Bloodshot eyes and looking tired.
- Changes in appetite, usually eating less.
- Changes in physical appearance, such as having a poor complexion or looking ungroomed.
- Craving drugs.
- Difficulty completing tasks at work, school or home.
- Engaging in risky behaviours, despite knowing negative consequences (such as driving while impaired or having unprotected sex).
- Inability to reduce or control drug use.
- Issues with money.
- Weight loss.
Attempts to stop it will lead to more cravings, making you feel physically ill. The physical illness is called withdrawal symptoms.
Causes of drug addiction
There are four main causes of drug addiction – biology, environment, psychology and development.
A person’s genetic makeup, gender, ethnicity and mental health issues can put him or her at risk of drug addiction. For instance, two-thirds of people in addiction treatment are men, according to a research result on myclevelandclinic.org. In terms of ethnicity, the reports also finds that native American are more at risk of drug addiction. To put it more clearly, if your parents or their parents have struggled with drug addiction, chances that you’ll become a drug addict is high.
Your environment plays a major role in influencing who you are or who you will become. Staying around people who are drug addicts means you will be addicted too. Family, friends, and socioeconomic status all impact on a person’s likelihood of developing an addiction. Peer pressure, stress, and parental guidance or lack of it can lead to drug addiction.
Psychological factors also contribute to drug abuse. Sexual or physical abuse, negligence from parents and peers, domestic violence, mental disorder, trauma among others can lead to psychological problems. Hence, a victim or patient can take to using drugs as a way of escaping from their problems. Over time, the constant use of these drugs will lead to addiction.
Age is a huge cause of drug addiction. Teenagers who start experimenting early are especially at risk of becoming full-blown drug addicts by the time they reach adulthood. Teens are more attracted to risky behaviours and can impact negatively on them as their brains are still developing. Although a person can become a drug addict at any age, the earlier the person uses it, the higher the chance that he or she will become an addict.
How to overcome drug addiction
This begins with admitting that you’re a drug addict. Talk to someone you trust about your struggle. Sharing your thoughts with someone who understands your experiences and can support you will help through the difficult times during the recovery process. Find a local support group, family and friends to help you.
Surround yourself with supportive groups
You’re not going to recover fully if you’re doing it all alone. Surround yourself with trusted family and friends who will help you become sober. Building healthy relationships will help you stay away from drugs.
Drug addicts don’t see any need for food. This is the primary reason they’re always skinny. To overcome drug addiction, you must practice eating a well-balanced diet. If you’re eating well, the craving for drugs will stop.
Working out is good for both the body and the mind. As you recover mentally, you’ll experience the “natural high” of endorphins, which improves your mood and makes you feel good. Creating a routine to exercise will give you the needed structure so you don’t relapse to taking drugs.
Meditation aims at achieving a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state through mindfulness. It has proven to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as to decrease blood pressure and improve immune function. For someone who is trying to overcome drug addiction, meditation exercises will help you find peace of mind and reduce the urgent need to take drugs.
Find a new hobby
Keeping yourself busy with new hobby will reduce the chance of relapsing to taking drugs. Don’t be the idle mind that is the devil’s workshop. Instead, try to do something meaningful and fun to occupy your time.
Volunteer to helping others
If you engage yourself with raising awareness about drug addiction in your community, you’re not only helping other addicts, you’re helping yourself. The more you talk about the dangers, the less inclined you’ll be to fall into it again. You’ll be able to discover a sense of purpose, build healthy connections and friendships, and feel good about the contributions you’re making to society.
Seek professional help
Recovering from drug addiction is not easy. There’s no shame in reaching out to healthcare providers for extra help. Talk to a doctor or local drug clinic about whether you need medical help in quitting. There are medications to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms. You’ll also have access to detoxification programs. If you have other mental health problems, a therapist will help you through it.
Drug addiction has destroyed great minds and destinies. Don’t die in silence if you’re struggling with drugs. Seek help in the appropriate quarters and set yourself free.
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