07 May Understanding Addiction
Addiction is a disease where a person continues to seek out and abuse a substance even when it has a harmful effect on their life and health. Understanding this disease, how it works, and how to fight it is essential for people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and the people who love them in order to aid in the recovery process.
Although the decision to take that first dose of an addictive substance is voluntary, the continuation of use becomes involuntary at some point. This is because drugs change the way the brain functions, leading a person to continue use, even if they don’t want to. These changes can be summarized in two basic disruptions that drugs can cause in the brain. The first is when a drug imitates one or more of the brain’s natural chemical messengers and the second is when a drug over stimulates the reward center of the brain.
These disturbances can cause the brain to alter its normal function in order to try and compensate for the disturbances. The brain will send out alarm signals as chemical supplies become depleted, causing a person to feel the need to replace these chemicals with the drug. Drugs can also alter the brain’s normal decision-making processes and a person’s ability to make judgments. This leaves a person unable to abstain from drug use, even though it is making them sick.
Addiction is different for everyone and no two cases will be exactly the same. Some people become addicted to a substance after using it only one time, while others use occasionally for years without developing a dependency. Some people suffer more serious side effects than others even when using the same amount of the same drug. The level of dependency and other effects the drug has on a person will depend on a number of factors including heredity, environmental influences, and their developmental stage in life. Those who have a family history of drug abuse, who move in social circles where drug use is common, and who begin drug use in adolescence are all at a greater risk for addiction.
Treatment programs that include behavioral therapy and medication have shown to be the most successful in treating drug and alcohol addiction. Because each case of addiction is unique, people suffering from the disease need to work with professionals who are able to tailor the recovery program to meet their needs. However, by far the best way to deal with addiction is to prevent it from occurring in the first place by educating young people about the dangers and risks.
For help now call 1.855.652.HEAL (1.855.652.HEAL) and talk to an addiction recovery specialist 24/7.