Call 413.540.1234 to
schedule an appointment
CONCERN/EAP: 413.534.2625
Billing questions? Call: 413.540.1212
CRISIS: 413.733.6661

Drug Addiction
Basic Information

pile of pills

Drug addiction is a commonly used term that describes an impaired ability to limit drug use, despite the harmful consequences of continued use.  In this respect, drug meets the definition of addiction. In our topic center on addiction, we define addiction:

Addiction is the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.

Drug addiction is not a diagnostic term recognized by American Psychiatric Association.  The correct diagnostic term would be substance disorder.   The process of diagnosing drug addiction is discussed here.

Like all addictions, the severity of drug addiction may range from mild to severe.  Unfortunately, many pe...

 
Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What is drug addiction?

  • Drug addiction is a commonly used term that describes an impaired ability to limit drug use, despite the harmful consequences of continued use. In this respect, drug meets the definition of addiction.
  • In our topic center on addiction, we define addiction as the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.
  • Drug addiction is not a diagnostic term recognized by American Psychiatric Association. The correct diagnostic term would be substance disorder. The process of diagnosing drug addiction is discussed here.
  • Like all addictions, the severity of drug addiction may range from mild to severe. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe they do not need to be concerned about their drug use because they do not consider themselves "an addict." In other words, people sometimes fail to recognize the substantial harm caused by their repeated and continued use of drugs.

For more information on identifying the many possible ways that drug use may be harmful to someone.

What causes drug addiction?

  • There is no one single cause of drug addiction. Instead, there are multiple causes that can be grouped into four basic categories.
  • These four categories are: 1) biological causes, 2) psychological causes, 3) socio-cultural causes, and 4) spiritual causes. Psychologists call this the Bio-Psycho-Social-Spiritual Model of addiction.
  • The biological causes of drug addiction include each person's unique physiology and genetics.
  • Psychologically, people learn to anticipate some benefit from using drugs even though it is harmful. These benefits can include: 1) stress reduction, 2) relief from boredom, 3) pleasurable sensations, 4) coping with negative feelings or situations, or 4) simply the benefit of avoiding withdrawal symptoms.
  • Socio-cultural influences also contribute to the development of drug addiction as it affords opportunities for pleasing social discourse and interaction.
  • Spirituality is another causal factor that can determine whether an addiction develops and flourishes.

For more information

What are the signs and symptoms of drug addiction?

  • The diagnosis of a substance use disorder is based upon a pathological set of behaviors related to substance use. These behaviors fall into four main categories:
    • Impaired control - 1) Using for longer periods of time than intended, or using larger amounts than intended; 2) Wanting to reduce use, yet being unsuccessful doing so; 3) Spending excessive time getting/using/recovering from the use; 4) Cravings that are so intense it is difficult to think about anything else.
    • Social impairment - 1) People may continue to use despite problems with work, school or family/social obligations; 2) Someone continues to use despite having interpersonal problems because of that use; 3) Important and meaningful social and recreational activities may be given up or reduced because of use.
    • Risky use - 1) someone repeatedly uses substances in physically dangerous situations; 2) Some people continue to use substances even though they are aware it is causing or worsening physical and psychological problems.
    • Pharmacological indicators (tolerance and withdrawal) - 1) Tolerance occurs when people need to increase the amount of drugs to achieve the same desired effect; 2) Withdrawal is the body's response to the abrupt cessation of a drug, once the body has developed a tolerance to it.

For more information

How is drug addiction treated?

  • There are four basic approaches to drug addiction treatment: Biological, Psychological, Socio-Cultural, and Spiritual.
  • People can combine these various approaches to match their individual needs and circumstances as they work to develop their own individualized, custom-tailored approach to recovery.
  • Biological approaches to addictions treatment attempt to correct or modify the presumed underlying biological causes of addiction. According to biological models of addiction, a "broken" or damaged brain causes addiction.
  • Psychological approaches to recovery aim to increase a person's motivation for change.
  • In addition to changing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, individuals embracing recovery may also need to restructure their social world.
  • Strengthening the motivation for recovery is very helpful. One such approach is called Motivational Interviewing.
  • There are also several effective types of psychotherapy for addictions. These are: Relapse Prevention Therapy; Contingency Management; Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy; Dialectical Behavioral Therapy; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
  • Socio-cultural approaches to addictions recovery emphasize the important influence of social groups on individuals as they attempt to recover. These include: 1) harm reduction strategies such as needle exchange programs, or public campaigns such as designated drivers, 2) family approaches to addictions treatment, and 3) the social support approach to addictions treatment.
  • Spiritual approaches to recovery are based on research that has repeatedly demonstrated that spirituality can have a positive effect on recovery from many diseases and disorders. The most well-known spiritual approaches to addictions recovery are the 12-step support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

For more information


 
Latest News
More Than 600,000 Opioid Abusers Raising Kids in U.S.
Dispensing Opioid Antidote Without a Prescription Might Save Lives
Not Just Opioids: Deaths Tied to Cocaine, Meth Are Soaring, Too
Many Drivers Testing Positive for Marijuana, Even With Kids in Car
Another Cost of the Opioid Epidemic: Billions of Dollars in Lost Taxes
Nurse Practitioners Often Restricted From Prescribing Opioid Treatments
Opioid Overuse Can Lower Hormones to Harmful Levels
Vets Who Get Opioids From VA, Medicare at Higher Overdose Risk
AHA News: Opioid Crisis Brings Concerns About Heart Dangers
Another Side Effect of the Opioid Crisis: Heart Infections
U.S. Deaths From Suicide, Substance Abuse Reach Record High
Opioid Overdose Deaths Quadruple, Centered in 8 States
Kratom-Related Poisonings Are Soaring, Study Finds
FDA Fell Short in Preventing Fentanyl Abuse Crisis, Report Claims
More Car Crashes Tied to Drivers High on Opioids
Insurers Making It Harder to Treat Opioid Addiction: Study
Meth Abuse Driving Big Spike in Syphilis Cases
Poor Whites Bear the Brunt of U.S. Opioid Crisis, Studies Find
Opioid OD Deaths Are Saving Lives Through Transplantation
Making OxyContin 'Tamper Proof' Helped Spread Hepatitis C
AHA: Marijuana, Cocaine May Play Role in Young Americans' Rising Stroke Rate
Another Opioid Scourge: Infection-Related Strokes
Opioid Danger to Newborns Varies By Region
As More Smoke Pot, Are Their Jobs at Risk?
Big Pharma's Marketing to Docs Helped Trigger Opioid Crisis: Study
More Americans Mixing Opioids With Sedatives
Opioids Now More Deadly for Americans Than Traffic Accidents
Fatal Drug ODs Soaring Among Middle-Aged Women: CDC
Postpartum Opioid Rx May Lead to Persistent Use: Study
Opioid Overdose Deaths Triple Among Teens, Kids
More Evidence That Abuse of Xanax, Valium Is on the Rise
Could Pot Harm Men's Sperm?
Opioids May Help Chronic Pain, But Not Much
Fentanyl Now the No. 1 Opioid OD Killer
New Approach to Opioid Crisis: Supervised Heroin Injection Programs?
Opioids Plus Other Drugs a Deadly Mix for Heavy Users
Even Wisdom Tooth Removal May Spur Opioid Addiction
Meth, Opioid Use in Pregnancy on the Rise
Opioids Increasingly Tied to Deaths of Pregnant Women
Many Drugstores Won't Dispense Opioid Antidote as Required
AHA: Meth Use Producing Younger, Harder-to-Treat Heart Failure Patients
Over 2 Million Americans Have Hepatitis C; Opioids Help Drive Spread
Many Young Drug Abusers Not Tested for Hepatitis C, Study Finds
Coffee Shop Workers on Front Lines of Opioid Crisis
Reports Warn of Growing Opioid Crisis Among Seniors
'No Documented Reason' for 1 in 3 Outpatient Opioid Rxs: Study
States Struggle With Onslaught of Opioid OD Deaths
U.S. Deaths From Suicide, Drugs Surpass Diabetes
Doctors Write Fewer Opioid Scripts After Learning of Overdose Death
Number of Opioid-Addicted Women Giving Birth Quadruples
 
Links
 
Resources
Basic InformationLatest NewsLinks