- What is Drug Addiction?
- What Causes Addiction?
- How does Addiction Affect the Brain?
- What is the Difference Between Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction?
- How to Prevent Addiction?
- When does it Occur?
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With all the reports connected to drug addiction, it is placed under a negative light. Society has looked down on both the condition and the people afflicted by it. Many have assumptions about drug addiction that may be biased towards what others say about it.
There is no doubt that a better understanding of drug addiction is needed to help those that fell victim to it.
What is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is when a person becomes dependent on certain drugs. This means that they cannot function normally without taking in the drugs. Ironically, though this is the belief that addiction instills in them, their bodies actually malfunctions due to the drugs.
Addiction makes our body and mind contradict itself. Our brain is conditioned to believe that the drugs are good while it and the body are harmed by these drugs. The addiction makes us want to keep taking the drugs. The more we take, the more we want it. Thus, the cycle continues.
While many of the drugs that people can get addicted to having effects that they want, they also have side effects that can damage our bodies. This applies even to pharmaceutical drugs that we use as medicines. Many drugs that are used to heal or improve our bodies can have bad effects to us if used improperly. This is why a doctor’s advice or prescription is required for many drugs in the market.
In short: anything in excess can be dangerous.
During addiction, this can be ignored. On many occasions, victims of addiction don’t even realize that they’re already addicted until their addiction is severe. In severe cases, addiction can lead to many other health and mental problems.
Mental problems that addiction can cause include insomnia and memory relapses. It can even result in behavioral changes like aggression. Drug addiction can also result to lethargy, liver damage, and even brain damage.
This is what makes drug addiction dangerous. It can damage the mind and body. These problems can even affect the victim’s relationship with the people they love.
What Causes Addiction?
In many cases, the beginning of addiction starts with the victim. But are they really to be blamed?
There are many factors to consider how addiction begins. In a scientific perspective, the drugs affect our mind and body that results in addiction. But we’ll discuss that further later.
Another factor to keep in mind is what drives the person to use the drug in the first place. With modern medicine, it is nearly unavoidable for us to take pharmaceutical drugs. It can be for relieving pain and other symptoms, or for adding nutrients to our bodies. But what drives a person to abuse the drugs that others take as medicines?
We can say that it’s the temptation of the drug’s effects. But that won’t be completely accurate. It’s no secret that life is full of obstacles and challenges. Many challenges can push us to our breaking points. Those who are tempted with drugs are often people who struggle to fight or overcome these challenges. The drugs provide them a temporary relief from what they’re going through.
The environment that we live in can also affect the risk of drug addiction. When a person is constantly exposed to something, they may believe that it’s normal. Therefore, when a person lives in an environment that exposes them to drugs or even entertains the idea that recreational drug use is okay, it can convince them to try it.
In perspective, it’s no different from other things we do. Others choose to eat their comfort foods to relieve themselves from stress. Others binge watch TV shows to escape reality for a while. But eating too much french fries or cupcakes can cause health problems. Watching too many TV shows can leave us with no time to do other more important things. What addiction does is that it convinces us to ignore the negative sides of what we do.
How does this happen? It’s because of what drugs do to our brain.
How does Addiction Affect the Brain?
Our brain is programmed to repeat what it thinks is good and avoid what it thinks is bad. This is why we like to do activities that feel good like our hobbies and we avoid what hurts us like getting too close to a fire.
Many drugs in the market have a feel-good effect. Some trigger the pleasure sector of the brain. Some release energy-fueling chemicals in the brain. There are plenty of drugs with different kinds of effects to us.
Those that most victims get addicted to are ones that give them pleasure or relieve them from stress. The brain acknowledges these effects, so it wants to repeat it. The problem lies when the drugs are taken too much and it affects the brain’s programming.
The brain can naturally release and accept chemicals that make us feel pleasure, pain, energy, and many others. By taking in drugs, the brain gets flooded with similar chemicals that trigger these reactions. When the brain receives these chemicals from an outside source constantly, it stops the natural production. This is so that it and the body don’t get overwhelmed.
However, when we use drugs for long periods, eventually we become resistant to it. This is because the brain and the body have adjusted to the drugs that it has gotten used to. When we become resistant to it, the addiction can make us want to take more or increase the dosage. Even with the increased dosages, the brain and the body will gradually adjust to it again, and the cycle continues.
This is how drug addiction chemically affects the brain. The brain thinks that it wants the drugs’ effects, but shuts off the natural production of this effects in the body. With the natural production shut off, the brain and the body become dependent on the drugs to create its effects. However, they slowly become resistant to it, thus they would need more eventually.
What is the Difference Between Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction?
The ideas of drug abuse and drug addiction are often mixed together. While they may be related, the terms are actually different.
As discussed earlier, drug addiction is when the brain has been reprogrammed to keep seeking for the drug in order to feel certain reactions. As an example, drug addiction can make the victim unable to feel pleasure other than by taking the drugs.
While drug abuse is linked to drug addiction, it doesn’t automatically equal to it. Drug abuse is when a person uses drugs other than for what it is medically intended. But it is not drug addiction if the person can stop using the drugs without triggering any withdrawal symptoms.
Say at a party, someone uses marijuana to get high. But on regular days, they don’t use cocaine and still function normally. This case is drug abuse. On the other hand, when a person uses cocaine regularly and cannot seem to function without it, this would be drug addiction.
In drug abuse, the drugs have not made significant effects to the brain and body. The individual would use it on certain occasions but can get through life without it. However, constant drug abuse is what leads to drug addiction. When drug addiction hits, the individual may find it difficult to continue their days without the drugs.
How to Prevent Addiction?
Perhaps, many may think that avoiding drug addiction is by simply not taking drugs. But that itself can be challenging. But the idea may be more complicated to some people.
We can be exposed to drugs in a number of ways. One of which is when we are taken to the hospital. Painful treatments may require us to use opiates like morphine, which is a drug that many may become addicted to. But being exposed to these drugs and even using them doesn’t immediately cause drug addiction.
So, how do you avoid drug addiction?
To avoid something, we must understand how it starts. As mentioned before, the challenges of their lives or their environment can push a person into drug abuse, which can lead to drug addiction. However, obstacles are unavoidable in our lives and we have no control over our environment. So, what can we do to avoid drug addiction?
Living a healthy lifestyle is always a key. You may be surprised, but a healthy diet and exercise can help us avoid drug addiction. This is because keeping our bodies healthy can release healthy chemicals in the body. With a healthy balance of chemicals in the body, the brain wouldn’t need to use drugs to “feel good.”
Having healthy relationships is also important. Having good people close to you brings good influence in our lives. These can open up to more healthier habits as well.
In short, to avoid drug addiction, take care of yourself and the people around you. A healthy life equals to a healthy mind and body.
When does it Occur?
Drug addiction occurs when people rely on drugs to feel good. This is different from taking pharmaceutical drugs to relieve us from pain or symptoms like during a fever. Drug addiction is when people can no longer feel pleasure, energy, or relief without the use of drugs. It’s when drugs have altered our brain and body
But even during severe drug addiction, there is hope for recovery. Rehabilitation and therapies can pull victims of addiction out of their harmful habits. Seek a medical professional if you or someone close to you shows signs of drug addiction.
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