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Understanding Drug Addiction

Whether it be friends or family, many people don’t understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. They don’t understand why can’t you just have a couple of drinks and stop or why can’t you smoke a joint to relax on the weekend and not do it again tomorrow. In reality, 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. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives.

What Is Drug Addiction?

According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIH): Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. 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.

Effects On The Brain When You Take Drugs

The majority of drugs affect the brain’s “reward” section, causing euphoria and flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. When your brain is working properly the reward section tells a person to repeat behaviors needed to thrive, such as eating and spending time with loved ones. Surges of dopamine in the reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy behaviors like taking drugs, leading people to repeat the behavior. When someone repeats these behaviors, like using drugs, it dulls the high when they first used it. Therefore, repeating the use to try to get that first high. This leads to long-term use that can affect the way your brain works and functions such as:

  • learning
  • judgment
  • decision-making
  • stress
  • memory
  • behavior

Despite being aware of these harmful outcomes, many people who use drugs continue to take them, which is the nature of addiction.

Why Do Some Become Addicted To Drugs & Others Don’t?

No one factor can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. Instead, a combination of factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

  • Biology– your genes have a lot to do with it and any pental disorders.
  • Environment – the expression “you are who you hang with” couldn’t be any truer in this situation. If your friends are using drugs, you will most likely end up using
  • Development –if a person takes drugs at an early age, they are likely to mess up their brains that are still developing, which can make it difficult for them to make good decisions. These are all factors that can or cannot lead to an addiction.

Evoke Wellness at Cohasset Can Help With Different Types of Addiction

Evoke Wellness at Cohasset provides men, women, and families with comprehensive, integrated care to set a solid and lasting foundation for lifelong recovery from substance use disorders. Our facilities are staffed by experienced and compassionate professionals, including licensed therapists and psychiatrists, addiction specialists, and highly qualified support staff. Our team members are extremely understanding and treat each client with an unmatched level of respect.