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by Joshua Rawlings

I’m not a drug addict… am I?

Drug abuse doesn’t just mean illegal substances. It refers to the misuse or overuse of any drug, legal or otherwise. Drugs can cause a psychological and physical state of dependence, and at this point you are an addict, like it or not.

Drugs with a physical rather than psychological dependence can be differentiated because a resistance is built up, where higher dosages must be taken to get the same results. There will also be withdrawal symptoms which cease when more of the substance is taken.

It is not just illegal drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and heroin which are abused. Medicines available on prescription such as sedatives or pain killers and even over the counter medications like cough medicine or various herbal compounds can be abused.

Why do people get addicted?

There are a number of factors to consider here, such as the specific drug, the person taking it and the surrounding circumstances.

As mentioned before there can be either physical addiction (as with some pain medications and sleeping remedies) or a psychological addiction where the mind of the addict craves the sensation caused by the drug in question.

There are also a lot of studies which suggest the possibility that some people are more liable to addiction and drug abuse, that they may have an ‘addictive personality’. No one definitive cause for such a condition has been found although it is highly likely there may be psychological factors as a result of experiences in life and it has been suggested that genetics may also play a part in determining this tendency.

A person’s social environment is also critical when drug abuse is examined. The presence of other drug users, self confidence issues, perceptions of drug use within their community and anxiety or depression can all be massive influences on a person’s likelihood to take up drug abuse, as is the availability of those drugs.

Everyone who abuses drugs has a motivation for doing so. Discovering what those reasons might be is a vital part of understanding their addiction.

What help is out there?

Once you have accepted that you have a problem and decided to do something about it, that is already an important step towards getting your life back on track.

Go and see your doctor. They will be more understanding than you might think and can advise you on treatment or refer you for specialist help.

Your treatment will be specific to you, there is no catch all solution to drug addiction, it depends on what is best for you as an individual. Your therapy will be linked to your needs, the drug you are abusing and the practicality of different courses of treatment for you.

These may include psychological methods of combating dependency, drug replacement using medicines to minimise the impact of withdrawal on your system and behavioural therapies to help you get over your addiction.