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Drug Addiction

Anyone who has ever suffered from drug addiction knows that it takes exceptional courage and strength to admit to having a drug problem. Individuals should not be embarrassed of this fact, or try to handle it alone. Drug abuse and addiction does not discriminate, affecting different races and age populations. No matter how overwhelming “getting clean” may appear, it is important to note how many millions of other people and their families have successfully weathered the turbulent times of drug addiction. With the proper medical assistance and with helpful social support, recovery is definitely possible. By locating other ways of coping with life’s problems, the ironclad grip of addiction will eventually lose its stronghold.

Because addiction is such a challenging disorder, relapses tend to occur frequently; this can be frustrating and disheartening for drug abuser and her family. Many people wonder if all the treatments currently available for addiction really work. For many, they have. There are several types of treatment for drug addiction, from attending peer support group meetings to living in a residential treatment facility for a limited time. Some physicians prescribe medications, to help the individual experience less craving for the drug and to assist with the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Getting clean is only the beginning of recovery. Once clean, the brain requires time to recover and reestablish connections that have changed while addicted. During this timeframe, depression and cravings can be very powerful, and they are very difficult to combat. If the recovering addict has no support, he is likely to relapse. With capable treatment, you can fight your drug addiction by learning new coping skills to handle stressful situations. If these skills are not learned, when faced with temptation or in the height of stress, the recovering addict is likely to relapse.

The first step to getting clean is realizing that you have a problem and need help. Here are some good resources to start with:

  • Peer support (AA, NA). Peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are places where you can bond with others like you while learning how to stay clean

  • Therapy. If you are seeing a therapist, you are encouraged to share your goals with him. He can provide good support, especially when you need someone to just listen.

  • Medical professional. When trying to release yourself from your drug addiction you may experience withdrawal symptoms that require you to see a physician. Your physician may also prescribe medications that can help make withdrawal symptoms more comfortable.

The withdrawal from drugs can be a painful process. See the chart below for some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms from some of the most frequently abused drugs.

Withdrawal symptoms
Cocaine Agitation, insomnia, anxiety, depression, anger, cravings, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, shakes, irritability, muscle pain.
Methamphetamine Extreme fatigue, disturbed sleeping patterns, irritability, restlessness, intense hunger, moderate to severe depression, anxiety, angry outbursts, lack of motivation, mental confusion, psychotic reactions, depression, intense cravings for the drug.
Opiates (e.g. heroin, oxycontin, vicodin) Watery eyes, runny nose, yawning, sweating, chills, stomach cramps, shakes, feeling jittery, irritability, panic, tremors, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, dilated pupils, goose bumps, rapid heart beat, high blood pressure, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and pains.
Benzodiazepine (Anti-anxiety medications) Sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety, feeling shaky, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat, sweating, agitation, and in extreme cases seizures.

There are several publicly funded facilities that provide drug treatment. Additionally, think about all the money you have spent on drugs, which could be spent on achieving a much healthier lifestyle.

Drug Enforcement Agnecy (DEA) –
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) –
National Institue of Health (NIH) –

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