Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking behavior and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. Many people may mistakenly think that those who are addicted to drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to.
Drug addiction is a complex disease and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to.
The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.
Most drugs affect the brain’s reward circuit by flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy activities, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again. Over time, the brain adjusts to the excess dopamine, which reduces the high that the person feels compared to the high they felt when first taking the drug—an effect known as tolerance. They might take more of the drug, trying to achieve the same dopamine high.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE BECOME ADDICTED TO DRUGS WHILE OTHERS DON’T?
No single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. A combination of factors influence risk for addiction. These factors include:
- Genetics – because the genes that people are born with account for about half of a person’s risk for addiction,
- Environmental Factors – such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.
TREATMENT OF DRUG ADDICTION
For many people struggling with addiction, the toughest step towards recovery is the very first one: recognizing that you have a problem and deciding to make a change.
Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery. You don’t have to be alone. Approaching the condition with honesty and open communication helps recognize that a problem exists, while helping you realize and improve:
- the way you deal with stress
- who you allow in your life
- what you do in your free time
- how you think about yourself
- the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take
Also, the most effective way to treat drug addiction is to seek therapy or counseling. It is not at all uncommon to experience feelings of depression. Many people experience highs and lows that can be difficult to cope with. Drug users often are people who are attempting to self-medicate for their psychological issues. Working through problems with a mental health professional is a much more effective and long-lasting way of treating a psychological or emotional problem.
Drug addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.
Are you addicted to drug or you know someone addicted to drugs?
Call Healthboxes on 09091111129 or 08097560000 to book an appointment with a therapist.