On Drug Addiction
There’s no question that drug addiction is a major issue confronting our society. People who become ensnared in addiction can see their lives ruined by their dependence on addictive substances, to the point that they can longer hold a job, sustain a career, or continue to have healthy relationships with friends and family. Addiction can become the center of the addicted person’s life, as the drug’s power over a person becomes more important than staying healthy and having real and meaningful relationships. All of this points to the strong need for people everywhere to have sound drug addiction information, so they can help those who are suffering from the difficulties that come with reliance on toxic substances.
The Complexity of Addiction
There’s no question that drug addiction is a very complex problem, and one that is hard to understand for those who are not caught up in it. It’s easy to look at an addicted person as someone who has failed morally, because they are unable to “just say no” to drugs. The fact, however, is that drug addiction is a disease with many complexities underpinning it, and kicking a habit takes more than simple willpower for most people. Since drug abuse changes the chemistry of the brain, beating a habit takes a lot of support as well as a commitment to receiving medical help when needed, and in getting the advice of therapeutic counselors.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is defined as a chronic illness. Those who have this illness will find themselves ensnared in a compulsive, ongoing need to ingest drugs, with no regard for the harmful effects they can bring. Though initial drug use is a choice, after a time, with ongoing use of addictive, toxic drugs, the chemistry in the brain will undergo changes that make it very hard to stop the compulsion to use.
For many people, the only cure for the “down” feeling that comes once a drug “high” has ended is to start using it all over again. This leads into the vicious cycle of drug abuse, and it’s why it can be so hard to stop using. Relapses are seen as a part of the recovery cycle for those who have quit drugs, but even though an addict relapses, they don’t have to return to the cycle of drug abuse. Many people in treatment for drug abuse are encouraged to return to their recovery plan, and re-commit to living a sober life. For many people who are addicted, having ongoing support from a drug abuse counselor or treatment center is the key to having lasting sobriety. For many people in recovery, it is often necessary to review an overall “treatment plan,” and revise it as certain circumstances change.
The “Reward” That Comes With Drug Use
A key part of the drug addiction information that people receive when undergoing treatment is the facts regarding how drug abuse affects the brain. The brain has a system that controls our feeling of pleasure and happiness. The “reward” is the chemical dopamine, which is activated when we do something that brings us pleasure, like seeing a loved one, eating a good meal, or just having fun.
The problem is that for those who use drugs, this center is overstimulated, which is what brings on the “high” feeling during drug use. With repeated over-stimulation, the brain brings on less of a reward, as the body develops a tolerance to the drug. To combat this, many addicts start to use more and more drugs in a search for the feelings they had during that first high. All of this leads to a deadening of the natural feelings of pleasure that other people get from more normal activities. The overuse of drugs can also affect other brain functions that control learning centers, the ability to make sound decisions, control social behavior and to remember things properly. Obviously, heavy drug use is dangerous and can damage a person’s ability to think and act in a healthy way.
No one really knows why some people are more prone to addiction than others. The underlying causes of addiction seem to stem from a combination of factors that are genetic, physical and social. What’s clear, however, is that anyone who is abusing drugs should get drug abuse information that will help them to seek treatment. Drug addiction can’t really be cured, but it can be treated and managed. Many people today live in recovery from past addictions, and have gone on to live healthy lives and to help others in their recovery.
So, if you or someone you love is in need of help for drug addiction, don’t wait. Seek help, and know that support is available.
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