Drug addiction or substance dependency is defined as the compulsive use of a substance to function normally, despite its negative or dangerous effects. Suddenly stopping the drug leads to symptoms of withdrawal. The exact cause of substance dependence is not known. Although, a person's genes, the action of the drug, peer pressure, emotional and environmental stress, anxiety, and depression can all be factors. A person's vulnerability to a drug also depends on individual traits. Physiology, psychology, and social and economic pressure are all factors in addiction potential. Drug rehabilitation is a process of medical and psychotherapeutic treatment for substance addiction. The goal is to get the patient to end his or her substance abuse. Psychological dependency is addressed in many rehabilitation programs by attempting to teach the patient new ways of living a drug-free life.
It is hard at times to tell if a person is abusing drugs, especially is the abuse is in its beginning stages. The symptoms of drug abuse, how the person talks and acts, are different for different drugs. The Office for Substance Abuse Prevention of the U.S. Public Health Service has classified four basic stages of drug use. Stage one is the beginning of casual use, most likely in social situations such as parties. In this stage there may be no obvious change in behavior. This does not mean that the addiction has not already begun. Stage two consists of more frequent use as the person is actively looking to get high. The user usually establishes a source in order to keep getting the drugs. A lack of motivation is noticeable in this stage. Stage three, all the user can think about is getting high. Daily use of drugs, depression, and suicidal thoughts are common. In the final stage, stage four, the user needs more of the drug to get high and feel okay. Physical signs such as coughing, sore throats, weight loss, tiredness, and irritability are extremely common. Blackouts, or periods of time when the user cannot remember what happened, can also occur. The user may resort to crime to get money to buy more drugs. (Washburne)
There are an unknown number of reasons why people start doing drugs and become addicted to them. This can be from just plain curiosity to wanting to escape their life problems. All types of drugs are advertised in the media, such as alcohol. There are very few antidrug messages to work against it though. In today’s culture and especially films, drugs are played up as fun and exciting with no downside. Many people first try drugs when they are young, often experimental. This experimentation is understandable in many ways. The years during adolescence are a time of trying new things and discovering new ideas. It’s a time to explore, take risks, and test judgment. In addition to that, most young people want to do things to make them feel more grown-up and in control of their own lives. The youth is more susceptible to these things because they see their parents or other adults drinking and smoking. In fact, many adults who use alcohol and tobacco do not consider them to be drugs because they are not illegal. Young people see models in alcohol and tobacco advertisements and to them trying drugs can be a way of feeling older, smarter, and more attractive. (DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction)
More often than not the phrase, “Just once.” can lead to a serious addiction. An addiction can begin with alcohol or tobacco. These are called gateway drugs. Young adults can start with them and which then can lead into more serious drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, and other illegal drugs. Alcohol and tobacco, although legal, can become the gateway to addiction. Physical addiction is when the drug becomes part of the body’s chemical makeup; eventually the body does not feel well without the drug. This is called building up tolerance. To get the same effect as when the person first started using, they