Drug Addiction

We Do Recover


There are several understandings of what “drug addiction” is.  Modern scientific thought has laid out a number of symptoms that include (amongst others) an unmanageable lifestyle, using too much drugs, and developing a tolerance for drugs.

Another feature of any drug addiction is the “mental obsession” (the incessant thinking that one needs to get and use drugs and to continue to find ways and means of continuing to get and use drugs despite the negative consequences), and a “physical compulsion” (once addicted to drugs the addict has a strong mental craving and physical need to get more drugs into their system to prevent withdrawal symptoms and feel normal to these symptoms).

You can read more about the symptoms of drug addiction and how addiction is a brain disease in these articles.

One of the challenges in drug addiction treatment is that the person suffering from it may be in denial of their problem.  Sometimes the addiction denial is subtle and the patient is not aware of it, and other times it is more overt – where the addict knows at some level that (s)he is an addict but does not want to stop and so denies the problem.

It’s important to note that treatment outcomes for drug addiction are not dependent on the addict’s willingness to come into treatment.  They can be coerced into treatment by family or ordered in by courts and still benefit from the program.  Thus even if the addict completely denies their problem an effective rehab program will expose their problem, bring them to understand it, and help heal them – regardless of the circumstances that they arrive in the rehabilitation centre.


Drug addiction withdrawal symptoms are a result of the addicts body adapting itself to actually require a certain level of the chemical to be present in order to function “normally”.  If they stop using the drug abruptly the body cannot function properly and will have to readjust itself.

Some drugs don’t have physical withdrawal symptoms, but people who discontinue them may have psychosomatic symptoms.  Other drugs can be very dangerous if they are discontinued abruptly.  Whichever the case, it is safest to have medical supervision while detoxifying from a substance.  Not only are you more likely to succeed in completing the detox, but it is medically safer.


The concept of tolerance is easy to understand.  It simply means that through continued abuse the addict’s body becomes able to handle the drug better.  Consequently the addict will require a larger dose in order to achieve the same high that they used to.  This is the second diagnostic criteria for drug addiction.

Causes of drug addiction

As yet there is no concrete evidence for a single cause of drug addiction.  Drug abuse is possibly the best way to predict drug addiction.  Other factors that could lead to addiction include genetics, the effect the drug has, peer pressure (social environment), emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and stressful life events.

Signs and Tests

Different substances may affect the user differently.  There is no clinical test for drug addiction other than a psychological diagnosis, but it is possible to test if a person has used drugs.  This is typically done through a urine test which will be able to show how much of a particular substance is in the body.  Blood tests are more accurate, but can be more complicated logistically and thus more expensive.

The length of time that a person will test positive for drug use depends on the substance, the amount used, and individual factors pertaining to the person.

If you are worried about drug addiction and would like more information please contact the experts at We Do Recover who will be able to guide you through this difficult time.  Don’t delay in asking for assistance, this disease gets worse as time goes on and can result in very serious consequences.

Please contact us to discuss:

South Africa: 081 444 7000

UK: 0800 955 4375 or email: [email protected]


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