According to the Federal Government's Household Survey on Drug Abuse, more than 35 million individuals used drugs in the last year and more than 12.7 million have a dependency on drugs, meaning that they require drugs in order to avoid physical withdrawals on a daily basis.
The types of drugs that people are dependent on vary but may include prescription pain killers, depressants, sedatives, anti anxiety medications, stimulants, marijuana, and illicit or street drugs such as heroin, cocaine and others.
Dependency on drugs occurs when there is a physical need for the drug and withdrawal symptoms will be present if discontinued suddenly. When an individual has a developed a habitual drug problem, their substance use becomes the center of their life and their drug use can get in the way of their capacity to function in life or to cope with stress. Drug dependency can affect an individual's physical behavior. Drug use is not a brain disorder but yet a learned behavior, like a habit although many drug treatment centers do not teach this methodology.
When drugs are taken over time, it is not uncommon for a tolerance to develop. A tolerance means that the body will require more and more of the drug with each use in order to achieve the same effect as in previous doses. If you take medication as directed, in the directed dose and for the prescribed length of time, you are not considered to be dependent on the drug. However, if you self medicate by increasing the dose or taking the medication for a longer period of time or different than the recommended amount, this could be considered being dependent.
For many individuals that have a dependency on drugs, detox is usually the first part of the process. Drug detox is the process of eliminating the toxic chemicals from their system that have collected as a result of their drug use. As an individual goes through the detox process, they may experience withdrawal symptoms which may range from mild to severe depending on the type of drug that has been used, the amount of the drug, the frequency with which the drug has been used and how long the drug has been used. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the type of drug used.
There are different types of detox programs; outpatient, inpatient and medical and nonmedical. An outpatient medical detox would allow the individual to self report to a clinic or doctor's office and receive medication to detox at home. Methadone clinics are examples of outpatient medical detox. Methadone is an opiate and like most other drugs, if methadone is used outside of the recommended dose and longer than the withdrawal symptoms; it is possible to become dependent on methadone.
IV therapy medical detox is seen as the most effective method for detox. IV therapy medical detox is supervised by a physician and intravenous therapy make it possible for the doctor to make any necessary changes to the medication protocol as the withdrawal symptoms change which keep the patient comfortable and allow the patient to complete the detox process.
It's important to remember that drug use can always be changed and more importantly stopped. If you know someone who has a drug problem, call St Jude's today. We are the hope they have waited for.