What is drug addiction?

Addiction is a mental disorder defined by compulsive drug use and drug search, and is impossible to control, regardless of damaging consequences.  Taking drugs the first time may be voluntary, however continues drug use may result in brain activity changes, that altering person’s ability to control and resist using drugs.  The changes in the brain may be irreversible, causing an individual who uses drugs relapse over and over again. Even the individuals who enter rehab treatment, and undergoing therapy, still are at high risk for drug use recurrence.

How to understand addiction?

Most people do not grasp why and how someone can be addicted to drugs. Many people associate drug use with people who may be lacking will power, or their moral compass points in the wrong direction, and that they can halt their use at any time. Unfortunately, this understanding is  inaccurate.  Drug addiction is considered a chronic disorder, and stopping drug use takes more then just simple desire or a strong will. Drugs have a quality to alter brain function in the way that it makes impossible for someone to quit using on their own. Today’s scientist specializing in brain functions,  have a clear understanding on how drugs affect the brain, and discovered comprehensive treatments that can help people suffering from addiction recover and lead an effective  life style.

Many people who get through recovery program, often get relapsed and would have to return back to repeat a rehab program. It does not mean the treatment did not work, it means just like with other chronic disorders, the treatment should be ongoing, and be adjusted depending on individual progress.  Treatment plans have to be reviewed and modified periodically.

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What happens to the brain when person uses drugs?

Most drugs today affect brain’s reward system, causing a person to experience euphoria and a surges of chemical called dopamine. It causes a reinforcement of satisfying but unhealthy habits like taking drugs, which leads to continues usage and addiction. If the person continues taking drugs, eventually the brain adapts by reducing ability of reward system to respond. This leads to developing tolerance to drugs, and making person completely dependent on it.

Long term drug abuse causes other changes in brains chemical system, and impeding individual’s psychological functions, that include:

  • learning
  • memory
  • behavior
  • judgement
  • decision making

While experiencing many damaging effects of drug use, many people do not stop using them,  which is an essential characteristic of addiction.

What causes addiction in some people?

There is no one particular reason that dominates other reason for becoming addicted to drugs. However some factors and risks dominated in person’s life may cause to drug use and addiction:

  • Biology. Genetic predisposition, accounts for fifty percent of cases.  An occurrence of mental health disorder may result in drug use.
  • Environment. Person’s environment plays a vital role in their development. Factors like, family, economic status, friends and quality of life. Other factors increasing the odds for drug use are peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, exposure to drugs, lack of parental guidance.
  • Development. A combination of genetics and environmental factors can cause risk for drug use and addiction. The risk of addiction is more detrimental to younger kids and teens, because the area of the brain that controls behavior and decision making is still underdeveloped.

Can addiction be ever cured or prevented?

Generally, there is no cure for addiction. Just like with any other chronic diseases, drug addiction can be managed. After undergoing a rehab treatment, a person still is at risk for relapse for years, and may be even for the rest of their lives. The most successful drug addiction treatment includes a combination of medications and behavioral therapy. The medications help with symptoms and withdrawals, and therapy help a person learn to cope with live with out drugs. There is no one type treatment plan for every person. Drug treatment is customized to each person, depending on their drug use history, types of drugs they use, and any co-occurring mental health conditions they may have.

Drug Addiction Treatment Center

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The positive news is that drug addiction is preventable through drug prevention educational programs, offered through schools, to families, and communities. Another powerful way for prevention of drug use and addiction is social media, that is used in a positive way.

Graphic of components of comprehensive drug addiction treatment with an out and inner circle. The outer circle lists vocational services, mental health services, medical services, educational services, HIV/AIDS services, legal services, and family services. The inner circle lists assessment, evidence-based treatment, substance use monitoring, clinical and case management, recovery support programs, and continuing care. The caption is the best treatment programs provide a combination of therapies and other s

What are the most common types of drug addiction?