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Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Symptoms of drug addictionDrug addiction is not a sudden condition with obvious signs. Addiction can be gradual, and it may not be immediately apparent that addiction has occurred. Drug use begins for a variety of reasons. A drug may be prescribed to treat a medical condition, such chronic pain, anxiety or insomnia. Other use is the result of taking a drug recreationally, for a “high” or to relax or escape. Whether you live in Kansas City or not, you will face certain effects if you’re addicted to drugs.

Chemical Effects of Drugs on the Brain

Regular drug use creates changes in the brain. Although different drugs work in different ways, most interfere with the way nerve cells process information. Some drugs mimic normal neurotransmitters (chemicals used by nerve cells to communicate), while others cause the release of abnormally large amounts of neurotransmitters.

The neurotransmitter most often manipulated by drug use is dopamine. Dopamine is involved in the brain’s perception of pleasure and rewards. Some drugs stimulate the release of up to 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that would be released naturally and cause the effects of dopamine to last much longer than normal. This release of dopamine is perceived as a “reward” and teaches the body to take the drug again.

The Development of Drug Tolerance and Dependence

The brain will attempt to adapt to the effects of a drug. It may react by producing smaller amounts of dopamine or by reducing the number of receptors available to receive neurotransmitters signals. As neurotransmitter levels fall, a larger amount of the drug needs to be taken to achieve former effects. This is a sign that drug tolerance has developed. As the drug continues to be taken and the brain continues to adapt, the user will reach a point where the drug has little effect but must still be used on a regular basis so the user can prevent withdrawal symptoms. This is known as drug dependence and is a precursor to addiction. Addiction occurs when dependence has developed to such a degree that the user feels they need the drug to function and experience a state of deprivation when the drug is not consumed. Cravings are intense, and the user feels compelled to continue taking the drug even in the face of negative consequences.

Common Signs of Drug Addiction

In addition to the development of tolerance and dependence, other common symptoms of drug addiction include the following:

  • Giving up activities previously enjoyed
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Engaging in risky behavior such as driving under the influence or using dirty needles
  • Lying to others about the amount of drugs taken
  • Preoccupation with acquiring a regular supply of the drug
  • Using more of the drug or using more often than desired or planned

Drug Addiction Help for Kansas City Residents

If you live in or near Kansas City and your life has been taken over by addiction, let us help you reclaim it. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day and our helpline is toll-free. We can connect you with experts who understand addiction and recovery. There is hope—please call.

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