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When Does Drug Addiction Start – The Why and How


It is difficult for most people who have no experience of addiction to comprehend why anyone would allow their life to be controlled by drugs. However, those who do go on to develop a destructive drug addiction usually have no idea how they ended up this way. One of the questions family members of affected individuals often ask us is ‘when does drug addiction start?’. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when a drug problem becomes an addiction, particularly because not everyone who abuses drugs will go on to develop an addiction.

Believing that all a drug addict needs to do to solve his or her problems is quit drugs is another common misconception. This is understandable, considering the negative stereotyping that surrounds the illness of addiction.

Understanding drug addiction and how it affects people is important when it comes to overcoming this illness. The first, and probably most important, thing to understand is the fact that addiction is actually an illness of the brain and that those affected did not choose to be. Nobody wishes to become a drug addict, despite what many others might believe.

Why Do People Use Drugs?

There are many reasons people first start using drugs; it could be that they are trying to escape feelings of guilt or shame, or that they believe that drugs will provide relief from mental or physical pain. Some begin experimenting with drugs because of peer pressure while others simply do so out of curiosity.

While there are some individuals who can use drugs recreationally, there are others who will quickly become hooked, eventually getting to the stage where every aspect of their life is consumed by their need for the drug in question.

When wondering when does drug addiction start, it is helpful to consider the issue of tolerance. When an individual continues to abuse drugs, the central nervous system in the body must adapt to the presence of this foreign substance. It will start to make necessary changes in order to lessen the effects of the drugs. As it does this, the person will get less pleasure from the drugs and may start to feel the need to take more of the substance in order to achieve the desired effect.

In most cases, an increased tolerance to drugs leads to a physical dependence. The more drugs the individual takes, the more he or she begins to depend on them. The body starts to adapt to the presence of the drugs, and after a while, it begins to expect the regular arrival of this chemical substance. If for any reason that usual dose does not arrive, the body will react and the individual will suffer various withdrawal symptoms. Since these symptoms can be severe, it is important to remember that drugs should never be stopped suddenly without advice from a medical professional. It is also a good idea to consider supervision when voluntarily detoxing from drugs.

Why Is Detox Important?

The first step on the road to recovery from any drug addiction is a programme of detoxification. This process generally takes between seven and ten days, during which time, the affected individual will feel quite unwell. It begins when the person stops taking drugs and the body starts to expel all remaining traces of chemicals and toxins. As it does this, symptoms such as mood swings, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and depression often occur.

The type and severity of the withdrawal symptoms will depend on several factors, including the drug that was being abused, the length of time the individual has suffered drug addiction, and their own mental and physical health. Detox can be a complicated process, and there is always the potential for severe withdrawal symptoms that could end up being life-threatening. It is, therefore, important to never attempt a detox alone.

Here at Addiction.org.uk, we recommend that clients detox under careful supervision. The safest and most comfortable place to detox is in a dedicated facility where medical professionals are always on hand to offer whatever support is needed. In such a facility, the individual’s symptoms can be alleviated with nutritional symptoms or medication, if appropriate. There is also less chance of emergencies arising in a dedicated detox facility as the staff have both the knowledge and experience to react to the most severe situations, often recognising these before they actually arise.

What Happens after Detox?

Many recovering drug addicts believe that once they have completed a detox, no further treatment is required for their addiction. However, the reality of the situation is that there is no cure for addiction. There is always the possibility of relapse, particularly for those who detox without following on with a programme of rehabilitation.

What has to be remembered is that detox only addresses the physical side of the addiction only. For a strong and stable recovery, the issue of why one became addicted in the first place must be tackled. These issues will still exist, and without rehabilitation, they are likely to result in a full-blown return to drug use in the future – in other words, a relapse.

With drug rehabilitation, the affected individual will learn alternative coping strategies for times when life gets tough. He or she will no longer feel the need to turn to drugs in good or bad times. So skipping this part of the recovery process is a huge mistake.

For those who want to ensure that they do not end up back on drugs, it is vital to consider drug rehab. They would typically have the option of either an inpatient or outpatient programme, and the one that is most suited to the person’s needs will again depend on a number of factors.

For most people, a programme of residential care is a wise move, particularly in the first instance. Inpatient programmes take place in a quiet and tranquil environment where there is little or no contact with the outside world and where distractions are kept to a bare minimum. This allows patients to fully concentrate on their recovery and nothing else.

While most experts agree that inpatient programmes are an excellent option for those with severe drug addictions, these are simply not appropriate for everyone. There are some individuals who would find it impossible to be away from their work or their families for an extended period. In these situations, outpatient programmes are the most appropriate alternative.

Outpatient programmes do not require the patient to stay overnight. They are less intensive and less expensive, and as treatment schedules vary, so too do the length of time these programmes run. Some can last for many months while others can continue for a year or more.

What Happens during Drug Rehab?

The issue of when does drug addiction start is one that will be tackled during drug rehab. Professional counsellors and therapists work with the individual to identify the cause of their addictive behaviour so that he or she can learn techniques to replace drug abuse in the future.

Various treatments will be used, including:

  • group therapy sessions
  • individual counselling
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • motivational interviewing
  • family therapy sessions
  • 12-step work.

Many clinics will also use holistic therapies in conjunction with the above traditional therapies. Holistic therapies are designed to treat the mind, body, and spirit as a whole, and are often used to alleviate stress and promote wellbeing in the patient. Examples of holistic therapies include:

  • art therapy
  • massage
  • meditation
  • equine therapy
  • sports and nutrition

While detox is designed to address the physical aspect of addiction, rehab deals with the psychological and emotional side of the illness. A comprehensive recovery programme that incorporates both detox and rehab is therefore essential for those who want a strong and stable recovery.

With that in mind, we urge you to get in touch with us at Addiction.org.uk today if you believe that you have an issue with drug addiction. We will help by providing you with advice and information on addiction and how to overcome it. We offer free assessments and referrals and can quickly help you with taking the next stage of the recovery process. Contact us today for more information on how we can help.

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