Alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, cocaine and amphetamines increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical transmitted between neurons that helps transmit feelings of satisfaction, arousal, reward or euphoria. As someone uses drugs, their brain learns to associate the drug with feelings of pleasure. The brain fails to reaffirm connections between pleasure and activities that the person used to find pleasurable. For this reason the old associations die, causing a person to feel less pleasure from the simple things in life like watching a sunrise or listening to their favorite music. The person continues to increase their consumption of drugs to fill in the gaps from daily pleasures, which they no longer feel. As the person's body becomes used to the drug, they develop a tolerance to it. A tolerance is the ability to consume a drug without feeling its effects. Although the drug may still be damaging the body, the person taking the drug does not feel as high or intoxicated as they used to when they first began taking the drug. They require larger doses of the drug in order to achieve a high. This pattern can continue until the person overdoses, dies, or increases their tolerance until they no longer feel any pleasure from the drug. When they aren't taking the drug they feel depression, weakness, or pain. These are symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal is the experience and associated pain occurring when a person stops taking a drug. In order to escape the pain of withdrawal the person may take larger doses of the drug just to function. Some users will increase their dosage to avoid pain until they overdose or kill themselves.

Signs of drug addiction include...

  • Reluctance or inability to pay attention
  • Reluctance to work or socialize
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Restlessness
  • Significant changes in personality
  • Loss of appetite
  • Desire to be alone
  • Easy loss of temper
  • Reoccurring sickness. All drugs weaken the immune system in one way or an other making the user more susceptible to sickness and disease.

Withdrawal symptoms can include...

  • Headache
  • Deep depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Diarrhea
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Sweating
  • Irrational thinking
  • Disorientation

Withdrawal causes people to...

  • Replace their satisfaction with sugary junk food, until their teeth rot and fall out.
  • Center their lives around the single objective of acquiring more drugs.
  • Destroy their life for the sake of continuing drug abuse.
  • Break close relationships with family and friends
  • Fail in school
  • Lose their job
  • Commit crime in order to pay for their habit

Drugs injected into the blood stream carry the inherent threat of acquiring AIDS

which is still incredibly not enough to deter an addictive user.

Some drugs such as crack require only one use to induce a dependency.

Some people have genes that make them dangerously vulnerable to addiction.

One use of a drug could start a dependency for these people.

The longer you abuse a drug, the higher your risk of relapse after quitting.

Long-term drug abuse can change brain function in ways that persist long after an individual has quit a substance. This is why it is easy even after years of abstinence to have a relapse and fall back into addiction.

The best cure for addiction

is to never try the drug in the first place. If you have an addictive personality or a susceptibility to addiction due to your genetic makeup, even legal drugs can be addictive after one use. Cigarettes have been designed to be extremely addictive. People can develop an addiction to virtually any drug existing today. If you want to live a happy healthy life, you must recognize that drugs are addictive, and drug abuse is toxic to your body. The more drugs you take, the more prone to addiction you become. For these reasons it's important to avoid illegal drugs, all of which are highly dangerous and addictive, to only take prescribed medication as instructed by your doctor, and to only take over-the-counter medication when absolutely needed.

To Quit an Addiction

Use more than one strategy to give yourself a better chance of quitting. When you want to beat an addiction do not screw around! If you want to quit, you mean business. Hit that slime-ball addiction with all the artillery you have access to.

  • Group support: Meet with other addicts who are trying to quit and discuss your progress.
  • Professional help, whether it's a school counselor, nurse, doctor, or psychologist.
  • Unless you're suffering from alcoholism, wean yourself off the drug gradually over four weeks or longer to reduce the effects of withdrawal. If you're trying to stop smoking, use the nicotine patch to deliver progressively smaller amounts of nicotine to your blood. If you're suffering from alcoholism, unfortunately, weaning yourself off alcohol does not work. Any consumption of alcohol will cause your disease to persist. For this reason, you must consult your doctor for the best way to treat your alcoholism.
  • Medication: Doctors can prescribe medicine that prevents the "high" induced by narcotics. Zyban (bupropion hydrochloride) can be prescribed by your doctor to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Aerobic Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise releases natural chemicals, called endorphins, that induce a feeling of euphoria. You can use exercise to replace the energy and pleasure you used to get from drugs. Plus exercise provides a number of other health benefits, including control over any weight gain you may experience.
  • A well-balanced nutritious diet containing fresh fruits, vegetables, protein and complex carbohydrates like pasta to give you the physical strength to quit.
  • Support from friends: Call your friend when cravings hit too hard, or to celebrate each month you stay off drugs.
  • Books and magazines: There are many books available with helpful information and inspiring stories that may give you the extra wisdom to make quitting a little easier.
  • Read Taking Control of Your Life as many times as you need to.

Back to Top

Related Info

Carefully review drug addiction treatment options online, by calling the intake specialists, and even by visiting drug rehab centers you may be considering.

Center for Substance Abuse:
Treatment and National Hotline
1-800-662-4357 treatment & referrals

National Clearinghouse
for Alcohol and Drug Information


Narcotics Anonymous World
Service Office in Los Angeles: An international, community-based association, holding weekly meetings for recovering drug addicts. To locate your local chapter call
(818) 773-9999