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Is Drug Addiction Hard to Overcome?


To understand the question of ‘why is drug addiction so hard to overcome?’, it is necessary to explain a little bit more about this illness and how it affects individuals. There is a lot of stigma attached to addiction and many people do not really understand what it is. So many assume it is a consequence of bad behaviour or a lifestyle choice when it is in fact an illness of the brain. And an illness that can take over the life of those affected.

It is also common for others with little understanding of addiction to assume that those affected by drug addiction must be abusing illegal substances such as cocaine or heroin. In reality though, drug addiction also refers to those who have developed a physical dependence on prescription medication taken for a legitimate medical condition.

A drug addiction is difficult enough to deal with without the negative opinions of those with no experience or understanding of the illness. To assume that those who are addicted to illegal drugs or prescription medication somehow have a choice over their actions can be extremely harmful. Telling them to just stop using drugs to solve their problems is unhelpful because they are unable to stop. Most addicts will require professional help to overcome their problems because a drug addiction can be extremely difficult to break alone. So why is drug addiction so hard to overcome?

How Drugs Affect the Brain

Although a person may have various risk factors that made it more likely for him of her to develop addiction than someone with no risk factors, this individual did not choose this lifestyle – nobody does. He or she may have chosen to take drugs, but they did not decide to actually become an addict. The idea that addiction is a lifestyle choice is ridiculous. However, this opinion is very common and it is usually due to how addiction has been negatively portrayed in the media for so long.

The truth is that mood-altering chemicals can have an adverse effect on the workings of the brain. In fact, continued use of such substances can hijack the brain’s reward system. If a person regularly abuses mood-altering substances, certain areas and functions in the brain can be altered.

The first time a person takes drugs, the body will release a flood of feel-good chemicals, knowns as dopamine, in response to the substance. If the person continues to abuse these drugs, the body will produce fewer and fewer dopamine chemicals as it gets used to the presence of the substance.

This is known as an increased tolerance and means that the individual will need more drugs to achieve the feelings that he or she desires. Nevertheless, by increasing consumption of drugs, there is a higher likelihood that the body will adapt further to the point where it expects the usual dose of drugs to arrive; when it doesn’t, the person experiences strong cravings.

The affected individual may also experience withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, sweating, shaking, nausea, and even vomiting when in need of drugs. Knowing that taking the drug can quickly make these symptoms subside is just one of the reasons it is so hard to overcome a drug addiction.

How to Overcome a Drug Addiction?

Here at Addiction.org.uk, people often ask us ‘why is drug addiction so hard to overcome?’. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that drugs can change the structure of the brain and make it almost impossible for the addict to resist the cravings when they occur.

No matter how much a person wants to quit drugs, it can be extremely challenging to stay clean when the urge to use occurs. Some addicts even see themselves as beyond help because they have tried to quit in the past but have been unable to.

However, we do not believe that anyone is beyond help – no matter how severe their illness. We know that with the right care and support and with a programme that has been designed around the needs of the person, a drug addiction can be overcome.

We work with many different treatment providers in both the public and the private sector who create bespoke treatment plans for patients. These treatment plans are designed around the needs of the individual to ensure a whole-person approach to recovery. These include various treatments that are designed to treat the mind, body, and spirit and not just the illness. This is generally accepted as the best way to tackle the problem of drug addiction.

What is Drug Detox and Rehabilitation Like?

If you are struggling with a drug addiction and need help to overcome it, the best approach to recovery is with a comprehensive plan that includes detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare. All three elements combine to ensure that you can get sober and stay sober. But what is it like?

It is natural to think about what the recovery process is going to be like before agreeing to sign up for a detox or rehab programme. A detox is required for those with a physical dependence on drugs and is needed to break the cycle of addiction. It begins naturally when the person stops taking drugs and is the body’s way of trying to get back to normal.

Once the detox begins, the individual may start to feel quite unwell and will usually experience a number of withdrawal symptoms, which may start off similar to those previously felt when in need of drugs. Nonetheless, for most, as the detox progresses, the symptoms may worsen before becoming more moderate in their intensity. Some may experience severe symptoms that could require medical attention.

In a dedicated detox facility, most of the worst symptoms can be prevented with the administration of medication or nutritional supplements. It is generally accepted that the best place to complete a medical detox is in a dedicated facility because it is safer and more comfortable than detoxing at home.

A detox programme will typically last for between one and two weeks, and once finished, rehabilitation can begin. A rehab programme takes place in either an inpatient or outpatient facility and is provided by various organisations such as the NHS, charities, local support groups, and private clinics. Who provides your treatment will usually depend on your needs and the type of programme you would prefer.

For example, if you want to enter a residential programme, it is likely that this will take place in a private clinic. Most inpatient programmes are privately run. Private clinics also offer outpatient programmes as do charities, local support groups, and the NHS.

A severe addiction usually warrants a residential programme because there are no distractions and no temptations to interfere with recovery. Those with a severe addiction would probably find it extremely difficult to stay sober if trying to recover in an outpatient programme and dealing with everyday life at the same time.

During rehabilitation, counsellors, therapists, doctors, and support staff work to help the patient overcome his or her illness. The aim is to get to the cause of the addictive behaviour and help to instil new coping mechanisms to replace previous maladaptive methods of dealing with the stresses of normal living.

Why Drug Treatment is So Important

The question of ‘why is drug addiction so hard to overcome?’ is an important one, but equally as important is the question of ‘why is drug addiction treatment so necessary?’. While it can be difficult to break the cycle of drug addiction, this should not be viewed as a reason to avoid getting help.

The longer a person abuses drugs, the worse his or her situation is likely to become. Drug abuse can lead to many mental and physical health problems, so getting help as soon as possible is vital. As well as short-term problems such as memory loss, confusion, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and trouble sleeping, there are many long-term consequences of drug abuse. Those who abuse drugs for an extended period could end up suffering with issues such as liver disease, lung damage, kidney disease, and even cancer. Getting help for an addiction is therefore essential.

Although poor health and even premature death are big worries for those affected by addiction, there are many other issues to consider too. Addiction affects all areas of a person’s life including their relationships with loved ones and their finances. If the addiction is allowed to progress, the addict could be in danger of losing everything that once meant something to them. This could include family members, friends, health, wealth, and even their home.

As well as the impact that addiction has on the individual and his or her family members, there is a negative impact on the community and society in general. Addiction-related health issues and illnesses place a massive burden on the National Health Service, which is already struggling to cope with an aging population.

If you are struggling under the weight of a drug addiction, please know that help is available. If you are not sure if you have a problem serious enough to warrant professional help, please get in touch with us anyway. You do not have to reach rock bottom before you can access help and support for a drug abuse or addiction problem.

Addiction.org.uk’s dedicated helpline is available now – please call to talk to someone

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