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When Did Drug Addiction Begin?


You may be wondering when did drug addiction begin, especially if you have found yourself deep in the throes of this often-deadly illness that is now threatening to destroy your life. It can be hard for most affected people to pinpoint the exact time when their social drug use progressed to being a problem.

If you have been using drugs for recreational purposes, you may have had full control over your use in the early days – or at least that was the way it seemed. Perhaps you were able to use a planned amount of drugs while socialising with friends and then quit when you had had enough.

However, as you continued to use these drugs, certain changes were occurring in your brain. As your body adapted to the substances you were feeding it, your brain started releasing fewer feel-good chemicals. The effect of this was that you did not feel as much pleasure from the drugs as you did when you first began taking them. Your response was to probably increase the amount taken.

What Does Tolerance Mean?

You might have heard the term ‘increased tolerance’ when discussing certain mood-altering chemicals. When you build up a tolerance to drugs, your body can handle more of them as time goes by. For example, say you began taking a specific amount of a drug and felt immense pleasure. With continued use, that same amount of the drug would not result in the same amount of pleasure because your brain and body have adapted to it.

When you take mood-altering drugs, they stimulate certain areas of the brain, one of these areas being the pleasure centre. When the brain’s pleasure centre receptors are stimulated, it will release a flood of dopamine chemicals; these are what make you feel happiness and pleasure. The feelings you experienced when you took drugs for the first time were probably the most intense you will ever feel.

Nevertheless, certain drugs also stimulate the brain’s reward centres, making you associate drugs with pleasure and survival. After a while, you will be compelled to use drugs but because you are continually chasing those first feelings. Moreover, because your brain is continuing to build up even more of a tolerance, you will become caught in a cycle of abuse that is difficult to break free from. At this point, you may have found yourself with a crippling drug habit without even realising what has happened. This is what makes it so hard to answer the question of when did drug addiction begin.

What Can You Do about Your Drug Addiction?

The first thing to do is to ascertain if you do indeed have a drug addiction or if you are on the path to one. With no blood test or physical examination to diagnose addiction, it is important to consider your drug habits and behaviours.

For example, do you feel as though you have no control over your drug use? If so, then you probably already have an addiction and are compelled to use drugs even if you do not want to. If your use of drugs is beginning to take over all areas of your life, leaving you with little time for anyone or anything else, then you are most certainly in need of help. Finally, think about how you feel when you use drugs and when the effects wear off. If you are suffering withdrawal symptoms when needing drugs, it is likely that you have a physical dependence.

So, what can you do if drug addiction affects you? The answer is… plenty. Although drug addiction is a terrifying and destructive illness, it can be treated. Many individuals who have struggled with addiction, even for a long time, have managed to overcome their illness and have gone on to live productive and healthy lives. You can too.

The first thing to do is admit that the problem exists, but this is often the most difficult thing to do. Coming to terms with the fact that you have an addiction can be tough, as it is for many people. Unfortunately, there is a certain amount of shame and stigma still attached to addiction, particularly drug addiction, and most of those who find themselves with a drug problem will try to avoid the issue for as long as possible. This serves them no good.

If you can admit to having a problem, you will have taken a major step on the road to recovery. The issue of when did drug addiction begin is something you can then work on during a programme of rehabilitation. Nonetheless, at this stage, the most important thing is to recognise that you need help and to speak to a professional who can provide this help.

Where Can You Access Help for a Drug Addiction?

If you do have a drug addiction, you need help as soon as possible. Your illness will not get better on its own and the sooner you reach out, the sooner you can turn your life around. The good news is that here in the UK, you do have plenty of options to choose from.

Addiction is an illness that is treated on the NHS, so you can go to your GP for a referral to a local treatment centre, although you may have to wait for your first appointment. The NHS is under severe pressure at the moment and addiction treatment is one area that is underfunded and often the first to face cuts.

You can also contact us here at Addiction.org.uk. We are a referral centre and as such, we work with a variety of treatment providers across the UK, including the NHS. We can assess your situation and determine what type of treatment programme would best suit your needs. We can discuss the options you have and tell you what the next steps are in terms of getting well.

In addition to NHS-run treatment programmes, you also have the choice of outpatient programmes with local charities or you can choose to have residential treatment in a private clinic. We will explain your options in full and the benefits of each so that you can make a fully informed decision regarding your care.

What is Treatment for Drug Addiction Like?

If you have come to terms with the fact that you have a drug addiction and that you do need help to get better, you may be wondering what drug treatment is actually like. You will probably need to detox initially, especially if you have a physical dependence on drugs.

Getting clean and sober is the first part of the process and must happen before you can attempt to tackle any other underlying issues associated with your addiction. Detox starts when you quit taking drugs.

Quitting any mood-altering substance can be complicated and there is always the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms occurring, depending on the actual drug being abusing. As it is not possible to tell what symptoms you will have or how severe these will be, it is highly recommended that a detox take place in a dedicated facility and under the careful supervision of experienced staff.

It is difficult to say how your detox will go without knowing your history. The type of drugs you have been using, how long you have been abusing them for, and the severity of the addiction will all have a role to play in the type of symptoms you experience. How severe these are may also be influenced by your age and overall health. If you have any underlying mental or physical health problems, the symptoms could be exacerbated.

For most, drug detox will last around one to two weeks and when it is finished, you will be clean and sober enough to get started on a programme of rehabilitation. Rehab programmes take place in a residential or day care setting, depending on individual preference and needs.

Regardless of the type of treatment programme you choose though, the aim of rehabilitation is to help you understand more about why you became addicted in the first place and to then learn how to move on to a substance-free life.

You will work with counsellors and therapists, either on a one-to-one basis or in a group setting with other recovering addicts. You will learn how to challenge your negative thoughts and to develop new coping strategies that will allow you to move forward to live a healthy substance-free life.

If you would like more information about overcoming a drug addiction, please contact us here at Addiction.org.uk. We can provide referrals to suitable treatment providers if you are ready to get started on your recovery programme. Alternatively, if you just need someone to talk to at this stage, please call and talk to one of our friendly and experienced advisors, who will always provide a listening ear. Call today for more information on how we can help you.

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