What is a drug addiction?
Drugs are fairly well established in our society and seem like a harmless way to amp up the party vibe every now and then or to soften the edges. But drugs aren’t harmless as they can be addictive.
A drug affects the central nervous system. It can be a medicine, but also a psychoactive substance with a drugging, narcotic, stimulating or hallucinatory effect. As soon as the “occasional ecstasy” or “bit of cocaine now and then” is no longer enough, you are on the way to drug addiction. Just like alcohol, drugs sneak into your life like a thief in the night. Until you can't stop.
Drug addiction is found among all social classes. Certain drugs, such as cocaine, are even more common in higher social classes. Intense social pressure, competition in society, accumulated stress and anxiety, and so on, certainly play a role in the development of an addiction.
What are the symptoms of drug addiction?
Unfortunately, it can take quite a while to realise that you’ve gone from using drugs recreationally to being addicted. Or maybe you feel that something is wrong, but you’ve convinced yourself that it’s not that bad. You tell yourself that you have it under control and that you really can stop if you want to.
Problematic drug use is often swept under the carpet by the user. Usually, it is family and friends who are concerned and speak to the user about it –. which triggers denial and lies.
My girlfriend told me I had a problem and she wanted me to stop. I tried to, but I just wasn’t able to. Then I started lying even more and doing everything secretively. I lied about everything. About money, about where I’d been, everything.
What are the consequences of drug addiction?
There are different consequences depending on the drugs you use. However, all of them involve mental, physical and social problems.
As your body gets used to the drugs, you will need more and more to achieve the same effect. You build up a tolerance to them. Long-term use damages the brain, which causes hormonal imbalances, among other things. But you can also get physical problems such as heart disease.
What types of drugs are there and what are the consequences of each one?
All drugs are addictive, but there are differences in how they work and what they do. Find out more about some of the most common drugs.
What is cocaine?
Cocaine, also known as coke, charlie or blow, is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant through a chemical process. It is used in different ways:
- snorting or sniffing (lines)
- injected (dissolved in water)
This white, crystalline powder gives you an immediate feeling of euphoria and energy that can last for several hours. It blocks the reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which modulate the reward system in your brain, and it increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
Cocaine is highly addictive and is often used by clubbers or people with a busy schedule, a hectic life and high pressure to perform.
What are the consequences of cocaine use?
Smokable cocaine is also known as crack. When you smoke it (or ‘chase the dragon’), you experience an intense high. This effect disappears quickly, increasing the urge for the next high. This is what makes cocaine so psychologically addictive.
Cocaine can have the following effects on health:
- lung problems from smoking crack
- heart problems: an increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, and more strain on the heart, which can lead to a heart attack
- cocaine gives you a feeling of self-confidence that makes you more prone to taking risks
What is cannabis?
Cannabis is also called weed or hash, among other names, and is psychologically addictive. Weed refers to the flower tops of the plant, while hash is the resin concentrate from the surface of the plant. Cannabis contains the substance THC, which makes you high or stoned. It is usually smoked by crumbling it into the tobacco in a rolled cigarette. This is referred to as a joint, spliff or blunt. It can also be smoked through a pipe or water pipe (shisha).
Cannabis is used as medicine for a number of medical conditions.
What are the consequences of cannabis use?
Cannabis can cause your blood pressure to drop suddenly, which is dangerous if you have pre-existing heart disease.
It can also cause acute psychosis: you lose touch with reality, become restless or confused, and suffer severe anxiety and panic attacks.
What is GHB?
GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) is a substance often referred to as liquid ecstasy, which is incorrect. GHB is a very different drug from ecstasy: it numbs rather than energises.
Originally, GHB was mainly used as a party drug, where it gained a reputation as a rape drug, but home use is increasing. It is sold
- as a liquid to drink
- as a powder that is dissolved in liquid
- in capsules
What are the consequences of GHB use?
GHB is difficult to dose accurately, and the effects vary from person to person depending on body weight and sensitivity to the drug.
With a low dose, you will go into a daze and feel calm, relaxed and happy. Your fears and inhibitions will disappear.
In the event of an overdose – which is common with GHB – you can lose consciousness or lapse into a coma. Severe respiratory problems are another possible consequence.
What is amphetamine or speed?
Amphetamine is usually known as speed. It is a white or yellowish powder.
Most people take speed to be able to go out (dancing) longer, but it is also used at home. You may also find that speed just makes you calmer. This is because it is very similar to the medication for ADHD.
Speed makes you eat and sleep less, but you usually use more energy because you move around more. You may feel tired and gloomy and have trouble concentrating for one or two days after use.
What are the consequences of using speed?
There are a lot of possible consequences of using speed. Some common ones are:
- overheating because your body temperature is disrupted
- speed is very addictive
- psychological issues such as anxiety, confusion, aggression and psychoses
- problems after use: damage to the teeth, nose and brain, heart problems, brain haemorrhage
Addicted to medication?
An addiction to prescription drugs such as sleeping tablets, painkillers and antidepressants doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a gradual thing. It is therefore important to follow your doctor’s instructions.
Unfortunately, prescription drug addiction is common and usually not detected straight away.
Please note that suddenly stopping your medication can be dangerous. So let yourself be guided through this process.
What is heroin?
Heroin is made from opium, a substance obtained from the poppy plant. Other drugs from this plant are known opiates such as morphine and codeine. It is a white or brown powder, or a black, sticky substance (black tar heroin).
After injecting (shooting up) heroin, or vaporising it and inhaling the fumes, you experience a rush. This is an acute feeling of euphoria that lasts for several seconds. After that, you enter a stupor that lasts about four to six hours. Your whole body feels good. Unpleasant feelings such as pain, sadness, hunger, cold and fear disappear, but all your positive feelings such as falling in love and being happy are gone too.
Heroin is highly addictive and the risk of overdose is high, partly because you never know how pure the quality is.
What are the consequences of heroin use?
Possible consequences of using heroin may include:
- Bleeding, infections and abscesses from the injections. Impure heroin can contaminate and damage the veins. People who use dirty needles or share needles with others risk infection with hepatitis B and C and HIV.
- Severe withdrawal symptoms if usage is stopped suddenly or overly delayed: anxiety, vomiting, diarrhoea, irritation, sweating and chills, watery eyes, runny nose and pain in arms and legs. These effects appear several hours after the last use and are most severe two to four days after.
What is ecstasy (MDMA, XTC)?
XTC is a stimulant that alters consciousness and invigorates you. Users experience a sense of belonging and openness and are full of energy. XTC is therefore popular at parties.
It is available in
- pills, in various colours and shapes and often with a picture
- powder form, also known as MDMA powder
What are the consequences of ecstasy use?
In time, the following harmful effects are possible:
- brain damage
- damage to liver, kidneys and other organs
- heart problems
- epileptic seizures
How does Affect2U help you quit drugs?
The first and most important step is admitting you have a problem. The moment you cross that difficult threshold, a multidisciplinary and experienced team is ready to guide you.
Together we will find the most appropriate solution for you. You can be helped on an outpatient basis or opt to be admitted to our homely environment.
Recover is an action verb. You have to pay constant attention to it and take action to work on it – together with others. Affect2U couldn’t give me any guarantees that I would “never use again”, but they did give me lots of tools to help make this happen.