What Is Drug Addiction?

Living with drug addiction involves compulsively consuming  illegal or legal drugs which causes a physical or mental dependency/need for those substances. A drug is any substance which, when consumed, alters the body’s normal functions, either physically and/or psychologically.

 If a person consumes a specific substance despite the harm it causes, the dependence can develop rapidly, becoming difficult to manage. Some of the most used legal drugs are alcohol and nicotine. Some people may also abuse these illegal drugs: cannabis, powder cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, and ketamine. An individual can consume drugs in various forms: drinking, eating, injecting, inhaling, smoking, absorbing through the skin or dissolving under the tongue.

People begin consuming drugs for a variety of reasons, including:

  • to start feeling better- relieve stress and anxiety, feel numb and forget about problems;
  • for the “feel good” sensations – feeling of pleasure, to achieve a “high” effect;
  • curiosity or experimenting – to be accepted as part of a group;
  • to achieve better results – improve performance at work or to improve thinking.
  • relieve social anxiety 

What Causes Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a disease of the brain and body. This disease leads to uncontrollable use of the substance and then destructive behaviours result. Once they become addicted to a substance, drug users will feel the urge to use it, regardless of the harm that use does to their brain, body and life.

Multiple factors can contribute to developing drug addiction. The most frequent causes of drug addiction are:

  • Environment. Environmental factors, such as access to healthcare, being part of a group of friends that encourages drug abuse, the user’s education, family members that consume drugs, the user’s attitudes and beliefs.
  • Genetics. The genes can determine how your body and brain will react to a particular drug. These traits can accelerate or slow down the way the disorder of addiction develops and affects the user. 

What starts as a social experiment, for example smoking marijuana to be accepted as part of a group, can develop into a habit over time. Cocaine and marijuana can change the way a person perceives reality, as the drug stimulates the individual mentally and physically. When struggling with drug dependence, the user can become addicted to the feelings and sensations associated with drug consumption. Very often addiction involves being dependent on more than one substance. Leading a lifestyle based on drug abuse can result in social, mental, and physical problems and impairments.

Drug use and drug abuse

Substance abuse affects an individual’s brain and behaviour and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. As time passes, people who abuse drugs may need larger doses of the substance of choice to get high or to alter their mood. Soon they may need the drug just to feel good. As their drug use increases, they may find that it is difficult to live without the drug.

How can drug abuse affect a person’s life?

Regular abuse of drugs can lead to experiencing health issues and can also  cause damaged relationships and money problems. Here are some of the ways in which life can be affected by addiction:

  • Failure to meet responsibilities at home or work
  • Physical health problems (heart disease, liver damage, lung disease, kidney disease and hepatitis C)
  • Mental health problems (depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, psychosis, and dementia)
  • Disabilities
  • Impaired control
  • Risky use
  • Social difficulties
  • Financial problems

Addiction may lead to physical, emotional, and social problems. Drug abuse can also lead to substance-related disorders and dangerous consequences for the person’s mental and physical health. 

Drug addiction, physical drug dependence and drug tolerance

Addiction can change the chemistry of the brain. The changes in the brain’s reward system of a person living with addiction make the person consume more and more of the same drug thus creating a dependency on that substance so the person can function properly.

If you are struggling with drug dependence, your brain and body may have developed a tolerance for the substance of your choice. Tolerance involves consuming more and more of the same substance for the system to function properly. When ceasing the drug consumption suddenly, the body may need a period to readjust to its absence. This readjusting phase can result in experiencing unpleasant symptoms, known as withdrawal syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms of Drug Abuse

Drug abuse can result in experiencing different symptoms, depending on the consumed substance. Some of the main signs that may indicate drug abuse are:

  • mood swings
  • behavioural changes
  • social isolation
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • insomnia
  • poor personal hygiene 
  • loss of appetite or gaining weight
  • financial problems
  • difficulties at work or home
  • changes in sex drive and sexual interests
  • frequent flu-like symptoms
  • dilated pupils
  • health problems related to substance abuse
  • red eyes
  • excessive sweating
  • anxiety/ depression
  • irascibility
  • paranoia
  • itching and scratching
  • change of entourage
  • delusions
  • nausea
  • trembling
  • shaking
  • clenching and grinding teeth
  • changes in vocabulary
  • secretive behaviour
  • repetitive intoxication
  • manipulative behaviour

Consequences Caused By Drug Addiction

Drug addiction can lead to dangerous consequences for the individual’s physical and mental health. The most common signs include:

  • job loss
  • isolation from friends and family
  • dropping out of school
  • hospitalizations
  • decreased quality of life
  • feelings of fear, guilt, and shame
  • financial difficulties
  • going to jail
  • troubled relationships
  • psychosis
  • behavioural changes
  • paranoia
  • track marks
  • skin bruises and abscesses
  • lip burns
  • loss of professional opportunities
  • being the victim of abuse
  • risky behaviour
  • sexual diseases and dysfunctions
  • brain damage
  • suicidal thoughts
  • low self-esteem
  • despair
  • homelessness

Living With Drug Addiction

A person living with addiction can develop helping techniques during therapy and detox treatment to live a healthy life. The consequences of addiction and dependence can be detrimental, and many people fail to access the proper treatment and therapy programmes to rehabilitate themselves.

If you are living with an addiction know that there is a better way to manage it and our specialists at our Scottish rehab are here to help you find the right treatment. Contact us today to discuss getting help for your addiction treatment needs. 

How to Help Someone who is Taking Drugs

If a loved one is engaged in drug consumption, your impulse may be to take charge of the situation: confront and try to help them. By doing so you may be pushing them away. It is recommended to talk with an addiction specialist about the options available and the best approach to getting the individual to agree to treatment. It is very important that an intervention is conducted in a safe manner and our team at Castle Health can help you today.

What does substance treatment involve?

Treatment for substance abuse should be unique to every individual programme and depends on  personal circumstances and on the substances they have been consuming. Call our team today and our rehab specialist will help you customize the right treatment plan. The rehab plan may include some of the following various treatments and strategies:

Talking therapies

Talking therapies are best used to make the drug user realise how their thoughts and feelings affect their behaviour.


Detoxification is a process for people who want to overcome addiction and build a healthy life. The treatment plan can help with the withdrawal symptoms.


For people with alcohol, benzo or opioid dependence, the rehab specialists may offer them certain medications to make the withdrawal  process easier; these medications can help the drug user with the withdrawal symptoms. If an individual has been using high amounts of alcohol or benzos it is critical that they detox under the care of a medical doctor. 

With the help of Castle Health specialists, each patient will be able to learn more about addiction, treatment programmes and develop new healthy coping mechanisms for sustaining a happy, healthy life free from addiction.