Drug Addiction

Is Drug Addiction A Disease?

Yes, drug addiction is considered a chronic and progressive disease that does not discriminate based on age, race, or socioeconomic status. Drug addiction currently affects more than seven million people in the United States. It usually exists in conjunction with unaddressed trauma or mental health disorders. Just like other diseases, drug addiction is treatable.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is the compulsion to continue using drugs regardless of the consequences. Addiction often causes people to do things, that when not in the grips of addiction, they never would have imagined possible. Drug addiction causes changes to the brain in areas that control decision-making ability, behavior control, and judgment.

How To Help Someone With A Drug Addiction?

Loving and non-judgemental encouragement is the best way to help someone with an addiction to drugs. Getting educated about drug addiction can help you find understanding. Oftentimes believing in someone who is no longer able to believe in themselves can give them the courage to try something different and get help.

What Causes Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is most often caused by a combination of a person’s desire to escape from the pain of trauma, abuse, or hopelessness in combination with opportunity. Many drugs quickly cause physical dependence, which can easily lead to addiction.  Sometimes genetic factors cause a greater likelihood that when drugs are used, addiction will occur.

What Is Drug Addiction Characterized By?

Drug addiction is characterized by an obsession and compulsion to continue to use drugs despite any negative consequences. It is the inability to control or manage the use of legal or illegal drugs or medications. Addiction causes changes in a person’s mood, perception, and behavior. Denial, lying, deceit, secretiveness, and a lack of self-care are common behaviors displayed in drug-addicted persons.

Is Drug Addiction A Mental Illness?

Drug addiction is considered a mental illness, specifically referred to as “substance use disorder”.

This is because of the way addiction affects the brain. It disturbs a person’s ability to prioritize normal desires and needs with the need for more of a substance, at all costs. This compulsive behavior is similar to that of other mental illnesses.

Is Drug Addiction Genetic?

While genetics can play a significant role in one’s predisposition to drug addiction, it is not the sole contributing factor and is certainly not a requirement. Drug addiction is considered to be the result of environment, behavior, and genetics, with genetics playing a role in about half of a person’s susceptibility to substance abuse.

How Does Drug Addiction Affect The Brain?

The chemical components of drugs affect the way nerve cells in the brain naturally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs affect the brain by overstimulating the ‘reward’ circuit by releasing large amounts of dopamine. Naturally, this is released in response to enjoyable experiences and causes the desire to repeat those behaviors. As a result, any association with drug use signals the release of dopamine, reinforcing the desire to use. Neurons may both reduce the number of dopamine receptors or reduce the amount released. Ultimately this leaves a person with the inability to naturally feel pleasure, causing desperation and depression without the use of drugs, further encouraging addiction. Extended drug use and the toxicity of drugs can also destroy neurons in the brain.

How To Overcome Drug Addiction?

The first step in overcoming drug addiction is admitting that one is addicted and gaining the willingness to stop using and try something different. This is often the toughest step. If trying to help a loved one, there The Source has a professional interventionist on staff to assist with this. For the person addicted, it’s important to understand that one can always experience lower lows, and moments of clarity provide an opportunity to take action and seek help. Drug rehab centers have programs that are very effective in helping addicted persons to stop using and to begin healing any underlying trauma that may have led one to drug addiction.

Is Drug Addiction A Choice?

While the initial decision to try drugs is a choice, once using, the brain is altered by addiction, and the choice to continue using isn’t so straightforward. As drug addiction takes hold, it becomes increasingly difficult to make rational, logical decisions. Although drug addiction may not be a choice, recovery is.