Santa Barbara, a beachside city in California, is not immune to issues of drug and alcohol abuse. Like every other city in the US, some Santa Barbara residents see their lives take a dramatic turn for the worse due to addiction. Thankfully, rehab can help Santa Barbara residents beat back addiction and obtain a brighter future.
Anytime an individual uses drugs, whether those drugs are legally prescribed or illegally obtained, they take the risk of causing themselves a great deal of harm. Some drugs have a reputation for being more dangerous than others, based simply on our misconception and prejudice about who uses them and why. For instance, an individual in Santa Barbara may justify her use of hydrocodone, the medication found in Vicodin and Lortab, because she has a prescription. She is taking the medication for a specific purpose. Taking one or two extra doses throughout the day is fine, she tells herself, provided she has a valid reason to take them. That same individual would not dream of obtaining illegal heroin and “shooting up.”
The effects, unfortunately, can be the same. The first part of the addiction process is known as “tolerance.” As defined by Medline Plus, a publication of the National Institute of Health, tolerance is the need for higher doses of a drug to create the same effect. This is true regardless of the type of drug, although some drugs can cause tolerance at a faster rate. Someone who is taking small doses of a pharmaceutical pain reliever, for instance, over a long period of time may find that the same small doses are not controlling the pain. An individual who uses heroin may find that the intensity of the high dwindles, and more heroin is needed more often to get the same euphoria as the first time. This tolerance can eventually lead to addiction.
Addiction is a disease that can lead to behavior changes, according to the experts at the NIDA. As an individual continues to abuse drugs, the drugs physically damage the parts of the brain related to several key factors of responsible living, for instance:
- Decision-making ability. An individual who does not use drugs can make the decision to turn away drugs when they are offered to him, however, an individual addicted to drugs may not have the ability to truly understand that using more drugs is not a healthy or productive way of life.
- Learning and memory. Generally, the brain operates with an ability to learn from our mistakes. A study conducted at the Baylor College of Medicine concerning nicotine addiction with implications in other treatments has found that only more of the substance withheld can alleviate the disappointment cause by the removal of the substance.
- Behavior control. The ability to control how we behave is taken for granted by many people. The drug-addicted individual often loses the ability to make a decision and behave accordingly, which can cause impulsive and compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
- Judgment. Knowing what is a good idea and what is not, at least as it comes to using and abusing drugs or alcohol, seems like an easy call for most people. The changes that occur within the brain of an individual suffering from addiction can be tempered by misconceptions and altered perceptions that make discerning between right and wrong more muddled.
The Ultimate Cost of Addiction
Addiction can have terrible consequences, and treatment is the only way to avoid many of the long-term effects of this disease. The health risks, in addition to addiction itself, can depend upon the type of drug used. For instance, methamphetamine abuse can lead to severe dental problems, psychosis and motor activity problems, according to the NIDA.
Sometimes, the cost of addiction is even worse. According to the news outlet Noozhawk, Santa Barbara has seen a rise in overdose deaths as a result of prescription medications for several years in a row, rising from 60 in 2005 to over 100 in 2009. Overdose is always a risk when drug dependence becomes an addiction.
If you or someone you love in Santa Barbara has developed an addiction to prescription medication or any other type of drug, Axis can provide you with the information and programs needed to recover. Addiction is treatable, and we can help develop a program specifically for you that can help you succeed, today.