Many people are perplexed as to why or how others become hooked on drugs. They may wrongly believe that drug users lack moral convictions or willpower and that they can easily choose to quit using drugs. In truth, substance addiction is a complex disease that requires more than good intentions and a strong desire to overcome. Drugs alter the brain in such a way that quitting is difficult, even for those who want to. Fortunately, experts now know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain, and they’ve discovered treatments that can help people overcome their addictions and live productive lives.
What is the definition of drug addiction?
Addiction is a chronic condition defined by compulsive or difficult-to-control substance seeking and use, despite adverse effects. Most people make the decision to use drugs voluntarily at first, but chronic drug use can cause brain changes that test an addict’s self-control and make it difficult to resist strong drug cravings. These brain alterations can last a long time, which is why drug addiction is referred to as a “relapsing” disease: people in recovery from drug use disorders are more likely to relapse after years of abstinence.
It’s typical for people to relapse, but it doesn’t indicate treatment isn’t effective. Treatment, as with other chronic health disorders, should be ongoing and altered based on the patient’s response. Treatment plans must be evaluated and adjusted on a regular basis to meet the changing demands of the patient.
What happens to a person’s brain when they consume drugs?
Most drugs cause euphoria while also filling the brain’s “reward circuit” with the chemical messenger dopamine. A fully functioning reward system encourages a person to repeat behaviours that are necessary for survival, such as eating and spending time with family. Dopamine surges in the reward circuit promote pleasurable but unhealthy behaviours like drug use, causing people to repeat the activity again and over.
The brain adjusts by lowering the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to drugs as a person continues to use them. This lowers the person’s high compared to when they initially started using the medication, a phenomenon known as tolerance. To attain the same high, they can take more of the drug. These brain modifications typically result in a person’s ability to get pleasure from things they used to enjoy, such as food, sex, or social activities.
Long-term use also affects other chemical processes and circuits in the brain, impacting activities such as:
Many people who use drugs continue to use them despite knowing about the negative consequences, which is the essence of addiction.
Why do some people develop a drug addiction while others do not?
There is no single element that can indicate whether or not a person would get addicted to drugs. Addiction risk is influenced by a number of factors. The more risk factors a person possesses, the more likely he or she is to get addicted to narcotics. Consider the following scenario:
About half of a person’s risk of addiction is determined by the genes they are born with. Gender, race, and the presence of other mental problems can all increase the likelihood of developing a drug addiction.
Family and friends, as well as economic position and general quality of life, all have an impact on a person’s environment. Peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early drug exposure, stress, and parental supervision can all haveFamily and friends, as well as economic position and general quality of life, all have an impact on a person’s environment. Peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early drug exposure, stress, and parental supervision can all have a significant impact on a person’s chance of drug use and addiction.
Addiction risk is influenced by genetic and environmental variables as well as important developmental phases in a person’s life. Although drug use can lead to addiction at any age, the earlier drug use begins, the more probable it is to lead to addiction. This is especially troubling for teenagers. Teens may be more prone to dangerous activities, such as drug use since parts of their brains that affect decision-making, judgement, and self-control are still growing.
Is it possible to cure or prevent drug addiction?
Treatment for drug addiction, like other chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, isn’t always a cure. Addiction, on the other hand, is treatable and manageable. People who are recovering from addiction are at danger of relapse for years, if not their entire lives. According to research, combining addiction treatment medications with behavioural therapy gives most patients the best chance of success. Treatment plans that are personalised to each patient’s drug use habits as well as any co-occurring physical, behavioural, or social issues can help them maintain their recovery.
Another piece of good news is that drug abuse and addiction can be avoided. Prevention programmes including families, schools, communities, and the media, according to NIDA-funded research, are beneficial in preventing or lowering drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural influences influence drug use patterns, when young people perceive drug use to be detrimental, they are more likely to abstain. As a result, education and outreach are critical in helping individuals realise the risks associated with drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers all play critical responsibilities in educating and preventing drug use and addiction among young people.