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Drug Addiction

What is Drug Addiction?

According to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 22.5 million people (8.5 percent of the U.S. population) aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem in 2014.  Only 4.2 million (18.5 percent of those who needed treatment) received any substance use treatment in the same year.  Of these, about 2.6 million people received treatment at specialty treatment programs (CBHSQ, 2015).  The evidence is obvious that this is a major problem within our society, no matter what definition of drugs or addiction you may subscribe too.

Addiction is a chronic, progressive, relapsing and treatable disease.  Whether someone is addicted to drugs or not, is not only subjective but a question that can only be answered by the person with the problem.  Addiction is also a compulsive need for and use of a drug which is characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.  Most addicts need help to stop a drug addiction and cannot do it on their own.  One of the reasons is the physical detoxification process, which needs to be followed by a comprehensive treatment program to deal with the psychological and mental health issues associated with addiction.

Drug addiction is a brain disease that can also cause damage and changes in the brain chemistry.  Some areas or functions that can be impacted by drug use include:

  • Behavior – People do things when they are using that they normally wouldn’t do.  Drug addiction creates situations where addicts will behave in any way needed to keep their addiction alive.  Most times they need intervention to stop the behavior.
  • Memory – At times, loss of memory is caused by blackouts where the brain is so impacted that people forget what they have done and what others did. Regardless of the cause, addicts will report that there is significant impact on their memory from the use of drugs.
  • Decision Making – It is impossible to make good life decisions while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  The consequences of addiction start to mount as the addict makes bad life choices in their addiction.
  • Stress – Living an addicted life is stressful, and in the throes of addiction that stress becomes another reason to use once again.  Since the addict cannot tolerate or cope with life on life’s terms, they need the relief of the drug to feel better, or even normal enough to move throughout their day.

So why do our loved ones use drugs? The reality is, no one wakes up one day and decides they want to be a drug addict.  The reasons are as specific as the kind of drugs they use.

Here are some of the reasons for drug use:

  • To Relieve Stress: Relying on drugs to reduce life stressors. Drugs produce feelings of pleasure.  However, frequent use can also build a tolerance that requires you to use more to produce the same initial effect.
  • To Feel Good: Using drugs can provide some people with a break from reality. It offers a sense of relief from underlying issues your mind may be trying to escape from. However, continual drug use can lead to a serious problem.
  • To Cope with Stress: Losing someone you love can take a toll on you emotionally, physically and mentally. Drugs can ease the grief you are feeling and are used to get through difficult times. Even if drugs are used temporarily, they can spiral into a serious problem.
  • To Overcome Anxiety: Some people are naturally anxious, causing them to perpetually worry. Although initially drugs may help with anxiety, it has been shown that prolonged use can actually induce more anxiety. Over time, this can lead to even more increased addictive behaviors.

Diagnostic Criteria for Drug-Addiction:

  • Drugs are often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control drug use
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain drugs, use drugs and recover from drug use and its effects
  • Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use drugs, in any form
  • Failure to fulfill life obligations (i.e. work, school and family responsibilities)
  • Loss of motivation and/or decrease in desire to obtain life goals
  • Increased tolerance to drugs, combined with increased usage to feel the initial “high” once felt
  • Using drugs despite Medical advice that it may be detrimental to physical health and/or exacerbate already existing conditions
  • Continual usage even after multiple legal issues as a result of drug use

Turning Point of Tampa not only recognizes drug addiction as an ever increasing problem within this country, but also believes that treatment based on a 12-Step philosophy can lead to a life that is productive, meaningful and drug-free.  Whether you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, we can help.  Whether it is prescribed drugs that are being abused (Amphetamines/Stimulants, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, Opioids), or illegal drugs (Marijuana, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Heroin, Spice and Methamphetamine) or more recently the new “designer drugs” (Spice, Bath Salts, Kratom) that have been on the rise in our country for the last several years, Turning Point of Tampa has recognized drug addiction as a serious and treatable disease, and we can help.

If you feel that you or someone you care about has a problem with drugs, please call us at (813) 882-3003 or email us at

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