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What Is Drug Addiction?

Posted on October 8, 2021


What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a complex neurobiological disease that requires integrated treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain — they change its structure and how it works. 

Here is an overview of drug addiction, including:


Individuals struggling with drug addiction often feel they cannot function normally without their drug of choice. This can lead to a wide range of issues that impact professional goals, personal relationships, and overall health. Over time, these serious side effects can be progressive, and if left untreated, fatal.

What is the Best Definition of Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease that requires integrated treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. Without treatment, brain changes can be long-lasting, and the disease can be fatal. 

What are the Warning Signs of Drug Addiction?

Sometimes the warning signs of alcohol misuse or abuse are very noticeable. Other times, they can take longer to surface. When drug addiction is discovered in its early stages, the chance for a successful recovery increases significantly.

Common signs of drug addiction include:

  • Loss of control
  • Continued problems despite negative consequences
  • Spending less time on activities that used to be necessary, such as hanging out with family and friends, exercising, or pursuing hobbies or other interests
  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school
  • Taking serious risks in order to obtain one’s drug of choice
  • Acting out in personal relationships, particularly if someone is attempting to address their substance problems
  • Going out of one’s way to hide the amount of drugs taken
  • Serious changes or deterioration in hygiene or physical appearance
  • Needing to use more and more of the drug in order to produce the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, trembling, sweating, nausea, or fatigue

If you feel that drug addiction is taking a toll on your life, it’s important to find quality treatment that can help you overcome addiction.

Can Addiction Result in Overdose?

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Any drug overdose can be either accidental or intentional. 

Accidental overdoses happen when people take more of a prescription medication than originally intended to achieve certain results, or when they use too much of an illegal drug trying to get a better high. 

Intentional overdoses are usually a result of someone trying to commit suicide. Regardless of the intent, any loss of life due to an overdose is tragic and any overdose can have severe and lasting repercussions.

How Does Drug Addiction Affect the Body?

Drug addiction affects every organ in the body. Aside from overdose, there are many adverse medical effects of drug addiction. These include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Contraction of HIV, hepatitis, and other illnesses
  • Heart rate irregularities, heart attack
  • Respiratory problems such as lung cancer, emphysema, and breathing problems
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Seizures, stroke, brain damage
  • changes in appetite, body temperature, and sleeping patterns
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders

What are Commonly Used Illegal Drugs?

Drugs are classified in a number of ways. Many are potentially addictive and harmful. 
Examples of commonly used illegal drugs include:

What are Commonly Used Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs that can be obtained legally are also used by all age groups for non-medical reasons and are often combined with alcohol. The risks of interaction, drug addiction, or accidental overdose can be deadly. 

Commonly used and misused prescription drugs include:

Is Alcohol a Drug?

One of the most common misconceptions is that alcohol is not a drug. Though legal, alcohol is a mind-altering substance. When taken in combination with other drugs, the effects can be deadly, but Origins has helped countless men and women overcome alcoholism and rebuild their lives through our proven treatment methods.

What is the Best Treatment for Drug Addiction?

Integrated treatment Is key to treating drug addiction. Integrated treatment is comprehensive programming that offers all the therapeutic resources necessary to help the individual heal physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

There is no one cause of addiction, though living with a mental health disorder may increase the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder — and vice versa. Everyone is different. In some cases, a mental health disorder predates the development of drug abuse. In other cases, mental health symptoms are not apparent until after addiction has taken hold — sometimes, these conditions are exacerbated or worsened by drug use.

There is No Cure for Addiction, But People Can and Do Recover

While there is no cure for any mental health disorder, including drug addiction, many go on to lead incredible lives filled with hope and courage. Numerous research-based therapies and treatment interventions have been proven to be effective in treating those living with drug addiction. 

The key is receiving personalized treatment that is intensive and integrated. When long-term support and therapeutic and spiritual interventions are applied, people struggling to overcome addiction do recover. Mental, physical, and spiritual wellness is central to recovery.

Questions about drug addiction and treatment? Call 561-841-1296.

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