Any drug that changes the way a person thinks or feels is abusable to some degree. It is easy to see the negative effects of heroin, cocaine and the newer designer drugs like ecstasy, GHB and LSD. However, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs all too are damaging in many ways.
Whatever the drug of abuse, all have one thing in common; drugs are toxins. There is an old saying that a drug is a drug is a drug.
When a person uses a drug, something happens in the body. The agents of the drug create a desired effect to a greater or lesser degree. In a person who has a proclivity to addiction, the first time that a mind or mood altering drug is administered to the body, this effect happens to such a degree that the experience can be that mythic “fix” that changes everything. Drugs are used to change the way we feel, to the addicted person they become the solution to problems and have the ability to create a false sense of security and well-being.
To delve a bit into the mindset of an addict, it is the end of a search for a single “end all, cure all”. The problems that are evident in the home, in their interpersonal relationships and in their social setting are all wiped clean for as long as the effects of the drug last. This is the beginning of a long downward spiral of addiction.
Typically, not one of us intends to become a drug addict or alcoholic, a person has the false perception that “it won’t happen to me”, but often many of us do become drug dependant. Addicts do not set out to destroy themselves and everyone and everything in their path. These things are an effect of the cycle of addiction.
The addict has a propensity to lie to everyone, things start missing around the house, the dishonesty conveyed is proportionate to the severity of the addiction, these things are all apparent to the person living with an addict. Addicts may become very manipulative, this is a mechanism put in place to protect or hide the addiction. Our experiences show that the drug addict or alcoholic is usually an intelligent and most often creative person with much hope for the future, which only adds to the calamity of their downfall. As the addict slips down the spiral, their loved ones try to deny the problem exists, sometimes for years. This is a part of the vicious cycle of addiction. Contrary to popular belief the addict is not a powerless person, often times it takes more effort to keep the addiction going then it would to learn how to live clean and sober.
The person usually enters into this dangerous affliction because they attempt to compensate for some personal deficiency or life situation. Addicts, even though often times are very capable individuals, have a low self esteem. They are depressed, unhappy or incapable of dealing with their life situations. It could be as simple as the rejection of a significant other, the loss of a loved one, or as complex as a major life crisis. This causes the person to seek “help” in the form of drugs or alcohol. Thus, the cycle of addiction begins.
Drugs are essentially a pain-killer. They avert emotional and physical pain providing the user with a temporary and illusionary escape from life and the problems it can present. When a person is unable to cope with some aspect of their reality and is introduced to drugs they feel they have perhaps “solved the problem itself. In reality, the problem will still be there once sober, that in itself is a motivation to go back to the drug.
The more a person uses drugs or alcohol, the more inflated the problem becomes. More problems are created by their use. This becomes the center of their focus; their motivation is to get the drug. Soon enough the person feels the need to use consistently, and will do anything to get high. The person can become both mentally and physically addicted to the substance.
The addict is now caught in the cycle of addiction. The person begins to display the physiological symptoms of addiction. They become unreasonable, they become difficult to communicate with, withdrawn and they begin to exhibit the strange behaviorism associated with addiction. Drug addicted people are not reasonable and trying to reason with them becomes futile.
The more the person uses drugs to counter the effect of their choices, the larger the burden of his guilt becomes. This results in a discontented, depressed, and a desperate individual.
Their drug use begins to affect their personal relationships, their job, their bank account, and anything of previous value to the addict. Now the person’s entire focus becomes centered on getting, using and getting more drugs, regardless of the cost. They sacrifice everything to avoid the pain of withdrawal and having to face the consequences of their choices.
The Cycle of Addiction is seemingly never ending. It seems to constrict this mortal coil relentlessly. In 1996 the NHSDA* reported that an estimated 13.0 million Americans were currently using illicit drugs. It seems to be a problem that has seeped into every facet of the American culture. Even with increased awareness of the dangers of drugs more and more people are becoming addicted.
The good news is there is help out there.