Brain Health And Teen Drug Addiction – Why One Drug Leads To Another

What chance does a teenager have to avoid the “drug tentacles” reaching into every crack and crevasse of American society? Drug addiction and drug abuse are not simply about “street drugs” sold by nefarious persons to innocent victims. Both illegal and legally prescribed drugs mimic each other in the many in which they exploit the structure or neurobiology of the user’s brain. The bad news is that teenagers have free-and-easy access to any number of mind-bending mood altering substances.

The money culture of America has created an “open hunting season” for access and “market share” of Americans’ consciousness by alcohol, tobacco and drug marketers of all ilk and stripe.

Beer and spirits ads promote brand use, yet finish with “drink responsibly” throwaway lines, as though the millions of kids and adults might “just have one”.

Smoking and cancer are proven bed-fellows, yet brand sellers “pitch” their products, while placing label warnings and even advertising their “stop smoking” web sites.

Last but certainly not least are the research and pharmaceutical firms, embracing FDA approvals for distributing all manner of body and mood-altering drugs.

The intersection between government and money interests simply rubber stamps the “she’ll be right, Mate” attitude towards creeping drug addiction. Everyone has seen the somber and chilling TV ads about “Just Say No To Drugs” government campaigns to build awareness of teenage drug addiction, as well as law enforcement muscle applied to illegal drugs trafficking. To what impact? Precious little, as drug addiction and drug abuse proliferate across all age groups and economic classes.

Sign Of Drug Addiction – What To Look For

At its core, teen drug addiction describes an inner drive, and an inner void, towards self-medicating. Why? Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, heroin and crack swamp the teen’s mind, diffusing anxiety while creating a distanced abstracted “dream like” safety space from the press of reality.

* Physical Signs

Your teen shifts towards an out-of-phase approach towards eating and sleep. Food tastes change, cravings pointing towards intense high caloric sweets and fats. Sleep disorders prevail, with late nights and impossible mornings the new order. Weight gains are interchangeable with weight loss as eating disorders slowly surface. Concentration lapses, missing school work and poor grades. Beginning with headaches and dizziness, physical sign of drug addiction can suddenly “blow up” into a full scale anxiety panic attack.

* Anti Social Behavior

For allegedly “normal” teens, all parents are “pathetic and lame”. Add drug use and hostility and suspicion towards parents becomes legion. Teen drug addiction amplifies the normal tendency towards intense secretiveness. Many parents, and even brothers and sisters, are the last to know that a teen “in the next room” has created a life threatening drug addiction. To be a teen is to be a master of the “cover up”.

Cause Of Drug Addiction – Contributing Factors

Peer pressure, stress, struggling self-esteem and identity issues, feeling of worthlessness, inability to manage the whipsaw of daily emotions, body changes and pressure to look a certain way, sex, parental pressures, parental neglect. Any one, or combination of factors, can become a cause of drug addiction once use begins and overwhelms a teenager.

Neither a teen nor her parents will typically “catch” the early signs in time before the snowballing effect of daily drug use radiates into a major drug abuse life crisis requiring aggressive professional intervention for drug addiction treatment of the mind and body. For parents, Hell’s door has just opened as they struggle to learn new attitudes towards their child, and to admit that they “no longer know” their child.

Knowledge Of Brain Changes Key To Drug Addiction Recovery

Consider the staggering complexity of our brains, with over 10 billion individual brain cells each with over 20,000 separate and unique synapse-links to other cells and a neural “roadway” of 4 million miles of nerve fibers.

* Drugs Create Unique Homes In The Brain

All substances, drugs included, travel along unique neurological “pathways”. So-called receptor sites become temporarily “occupied” by drug compounds, creating a short-lived “feel good” mood altering impact. Responding to external pressures, the teen “self medicates” in order to re-create that safety zone. The Catch 22 for all drug users is that they lack the ability to self-analyze and resolve psychological issues, and their self-medication only buries them deeper inside the very problems they’re trying to resolve. This is the inevitability, steep slope and snowballing reality of teenage drug addiction.

* Brain Adapts – Drug Use Increases In Search Of The “High”

Brain receptor sites adapt over time. Result? Starter drugs no longer create the “same high”. Teen response? Experiment and find another, more powerful drug. The cycle of brain adaptation and intensifying drug usage creates a downward spiral of increasing drug addiction, where withdrawal stresses produce a bio-chemical flow of demand for more drugs and shorter intervals.

The Causes of Drug Addiction

Addiction is a disease that affects the lives of so many people, the numbers are staggering. Even more alarming is the fact that many addicts are in denial, which means that the number of people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction in our country could be far greater than we actually know.

The addict of drugs or alcohol is generally in a state of denial and believes that he or she can stop at any time. This is not true. Once an addict has begun the cycle of denial, they have entered the realm of addiction. Although they know it is wrong and they know the effects that drugs and alcohol can have on them both mentally and physically, they put these negative effects and consequences out of their mind and continue to use. This is the quagmire of addiction. How, then, does addiction work? Let’s take a brief look at what some of the determining factors are.

FROM A SCIENTIST’S POINT OF VIEW

Compulsion is the main aspect that propels an addict through their addiction. Addiction manifests itself in different ways, and can sprout up seemingly out of nowhere. Science has been studying addiction for many years now, attempting to locate the addiction centers to see exactly how they work. The trouble with this is that addiction is a very individualized behavior, slightly different with every individual it affects.

Psychological addiction is when an addict believes that he or she needs the substance they abuse to be able to function. Whether it is a drink to calm their nerves or a line of cocaine to give them a pick-me-up, the psychological addict honestly believes that they are fine, but that they require these substances to feel balanced. Although not as serious as a physical addiction, psychological addiction is very strong and debilitating for addicts nonetheless.

Physical addiction is when the addict’s body requires certain amounts of a drug to be able to function. This is quite common with users of crack cocaine, methamphetamines, cocaine, heroin, and even alcohol. The addict has used these substances for so long and so frequently that there body is unable to function properly without certain levels of drugs and/or alcohol in their system. Without the drugs or alcohol, the body begins to experience withdrawal. Withdrawal is a painful process in which the body begins to shut down and violently crave the drugs that it needs in order to function.

GENETICALLY SPEAKING

According to some scientists, a person’s genes can determine whether or not they have a propensity for addiction. There are even some in the scientific community who have gone so far as to claim that certain ethnic backgrounds are more at-risk for addiction than others. Whether this is true or not, statistically speaking, familial traits do seem to play a role in the addictive behaviors of individuals. This could also be because those who have sought treatment in the past recognize it at earlier stages than those who have not had to deal with addiction in their families.

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS

Environment has a lot to do with how individuals behave. Many addicts grew up around other addicts, whether in the immediate family or with those that they spent a lot of time with during their development. Neighborhoods where drugs are prevalent naturally have more addicts than “clean” neighborhoods, although no one is immune to the problem of addiction.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The fact of the matter is that addiction cannot be traced back to one factor. There are usually several precipitating factors that ultimately help to spawn an addict. A combination of genetic or family history, combined with an environment in which the potential addict is exposed frequently to drug and alcohol abuse compounds the likelihood of addiction in an individual. The important thing to remember is that addiction is a disease. No one chooses to become an addict; there are many factors involved. Seeking help and beginning a rehab program of recovery is the best way to fight back.

Selecting the Best Alcohol Rehab Center

Alcohol addiction is a severe problem afflicting people across the board. The addiction can lead to extreme psychological problems and also cause unprovoked episodes of violent behavior. There are a number of highly reputed alcohol rehab centers all over the country which offer alcohol de-addiction programs, where the primary focus is on lending support to the addict to overcome not just the addiction, but also handle stress and fears.

The Treatment Process at Alcohol Rehab Centers

The first step towards de-addiction at the rehab centers involves detoxification. Detoxification involves withdrawal and resurgence of withdrawal. It can be painful procedure for the addict as the body finds it difficult to deal with the symptoms caused by the sudden lack of alcohol. However, medical therapists and doctors at the centers provide assistance to the addict through this difficult phase.

Once the addict is able to cope with the withdrawal symptoms the second phase of the de-addiction process is started. This involves counseling sessions with an expert counselor, adept in handling cases of alcohol abuse. There is group as well as individual counseling sessions at the treatment centers. An alcohol addict is generally in very poor mental, physical and emotional state which makes it essential that the treatment center provides the addict adequate medication, counseling and therapy that would help the individual to not just free themselves of alcohol but bounce back to life as well.

Duration of the Treatment

There is no fixed time span for the alcohol de-addiction treatment. The duration depends on various individual factors that decide the time the treatment will take. The key factors are the extent of addiction and the type of damage the addict has suffered. The treatment and complete recovery process depend on the mental, behavioral and emotional state of the patient. The patient has to be responsive for the doctors and medical experts to begin the treatment. The treatment is carried out in different phases.

Treatment for detoxification is the first phase of the de-addiction program. On an average the detoxification program lasts around 4 to 6 weeks depending on the response from the patient. After the detoxification program the patient is given therapy and counseling.

Therapy can sometimes take months as the therapist and the patient have to deal with a lot of issues such as emotional disturbances, behavioral problems and many such issues that lead to alcoholism. Sometimes the problems are deep rooted and go back to the individual’s childhood at others alcoholism stems from insecurities.

There are many other reasons to alcoholism and the therapist helps the patient to get to the cause and address it with the right perspective rather than shielding behind alcohol. Once the patient is stable and in control, the therapy sessions are continued as an outpatient treatment.

Getting Help for Addiction

There is a tremendous amount of awareness amongst people these days and they recognize alcohol addiction when they see it. Alcoholism is a common scourge of society, but the good thing is there is help available through drug and alcohol rehab centers. Alcoholism can be treated provided the right treatment is given to the addict.