Also known as: substance use disorder, drug use disorder

Drug addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain. In drug addiction parts of the brain change when a person uses drugs which affects the drug addicted person’s abilities to learn, to make decisions, memory, judgement, and ability to control their own behaviour.

Drug addicts will continually try to acquire substances to feed their addiction, even though it causes harm to their body; has repercussions in their life and daily activities, and affecting those around them.

Alcohol and nicotine are substances that are also considered drugs by the medical community, however in this context we mainly refer to psychoactive drugs such as dagga, Mandrax, tik, heroin, cocaine & amphetamines.


Psychological addiction vs. physical dependence:

These are both separate components of substance use disorder:

Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body adapts to the repeated exposure to a particular substance. The (usually sudden) lack of presence of that substance causes the body to experience symptoms of withdrawal as is adapts back to the normal state it was in before the exposure.

Psychological addiction happens because the brain releases dopamine, or other neurotransmitters during certain experiences which forms part of our built-in reward system. We can be addicted to just about any activity where our brain releases these neurotransmitters, such as eating or playing video games. Repeated drug or substance use is especially likely to trigger this condition of addiction, since psychoactive drugs cause excess dopamine to be released, associating and reinforcing the behaviour of drug use with heightened pleasure.

Both of these components play a major role in substance abuse. The psychological aspect of addiction is the most critical constituent since physical dependence alone doesn’t necessarily lead to usage or relapse after it passes.


How to identify drug addiction – possible signs:

Different drugs exhibit different signs and symptoms. Common withdrawal symptoms include depression, fever, lethargy, fatigue, muscle aches, confusion and more. Please review our drug information section for signs and symptoms for specific drugs.


Can you recover from drug addiction?

Yes you can. Each person with drug addiction would require a specific intervention. Every individual drug addict should have their own treatment plan addressing their individual needs therefore a consultation from a registered drug addiction treatment centre can help you determine which route is best. If the addicted person is using highly addictive substances like tik, or they are just prone to chronic relapsing taking them back into drug use, an in-patient drug rehabilitation program is often recommended in order to temporary remove the user out of the environments where they naturally find it easy to get drugs and continue to use (enabling environments).

False Bay Therapeutic Community Centre is a registered drug addiction rehabilitation clinic where patients are able to focus on their drug addiction issues in a tranquil environment which is conducive to recovery from drug addiction. Please don’t hesitate to ask us if you need advice on what to do next.


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A few years ago, I started using cat and cocaine with friends. At first it was just for fun, but then it got worse...


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