Drugs change the structure of the brain and affect how it works. For this very reason, drug addiction is defined as being a complex brain disease characterized by the overwhelming desire to obtain and use drugs despite any harmful consequences they may cause.
The Essence of Drug Addiction
When people speak on addiction, a lot of times they focus on whether a particular substance is addictive based on the physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms it produces. However, the withdrawal symptoms a particular drug may produce when it is stopped isn’t what is most important here. The National Institute of Health’s “Essence of Addiction” says:
What does matter tremendously is whether or not a drug causes what we now know to be the essence of addiction: uncontrollable, compulsive drug seeking and use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences. This is the crux of how many professional organizations all define addiction, and how we all should use the term. It is only this expression of addiction—uncontrollable, compulsive craving, seeking, and use of drugs—that matters to the addict and his or her family, and that should matter to society as a whole. These are the elements responsible for the massive health and social problems caused by drug addiction. (NIH)
Drug addiction is a chronic and progressive life-long disease. It is treatable, however, if left untreated it can and will eventually lead to death.
Which 5 Drugs Are the Most Addictive?
There are a lot of different drugs out here that people abuse and eventually become addicted to, but what are the most addictive drugs available these days? Here are the 5 most addictive drugs: Cocaine – Cocaine is a stimulant drug that comes from the coca plant. It comes in a white powder or sometimes is cooked down to a purer form known as crack. Cocaine is either snorted, injected, or smoked (crack). When taken it produces an intense euphoric high by flooding the brain with dopamine. The effects that cocaine produces are quick, intense, and very short-lived. Once the person stops using, they experience a hard crash which is usually severe depression, fatigue, and cravings for more of the drug. Heroin – Heroin is an opioid that is made from morphine. It activates the opioid receptors in the brain to decrease pain and promote a sense of calm and relaxation. It is whitish in appearance or sometimes comes in a sticky black tar-like substance. Heroin is usually either snorted, injected, or smoked. When heroin is taken it produces an immediate and intense euphoric rush and also sometimes produces an “out of body experience”. Heroin can cause physical dependence rather quickly. When someone becomes addicted to it, they will experience debilitating withdrawal symptoms once the drug leaves the body. The terrible withdrawal symptoms are what cause the user to crave the drug so badly. Alcohol – Alcohol is one of the most regularly used substances in the US especially since it is legal. It acts on dopamine to enhance the mood. It is a central nervous system depressant so it slows everything down. Alcohol causes sedation and greatly impairs cognition and motor skills. It can also cause impaired decision-making and impulse-control abilities. Chronic alcohol abuse can eventually lead to dependency on the substance. Once alcohol dependence has set in, a person can experience anywhere from mild to dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Like with heroin, the debilitating withdrawal symptoms alcohol can produce will cause an abuser to want to continue drinking just to alleviate the symptoms alone. Nicotine – Nicotine is probably the most widely used substance in the world. It is also a stimulant that acts on the reward centers in the brain to elevate mood and produce pleasant sensations. It is smoked and takes effect within seconds, but wears off in a matter of hours. One can develop a nicotine dependence rather quickly If one smokes regularly, and nicotine is one of the hardest substances to stop using. Withdrawal symptoms set in once it begins to lead the bloodstream, and the cravings that it produces can be intense. Methamphetamine – Methamphetamine or ” meth” is a powerful synthetic or “man-made” stimulant. It comes in either a powder or crystal form and can be snorted, smoked, or injected. When taken, meth produces an intense euphoric high by flooding the brain with excess amounts of dopamine. It increases a person’s focus, decreases their need for sleep, reduces their appetite, and increases excitability and pleasure. In large amounts, meth can have psychotic side effects and can cause violence and aggression. Once methamphetamine starts to leave the bloodstream, it causes extreme levels of dopamine to occur. Severe depression and extreme fatigue are the results, and this is what makes users crave more and more of the drug. When an addictive drug is taken, it hits the pleasure centers in the brain and causes a flood of dopamine (the “feel-good” hormone) to be released. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for reward, motivation, and reinforcement. This is part of what starts the cycle of addiction and causes uncontrollable, compulsive, and drug-seeking behavior. And as we know, untreated mental illness is the other big contributing factor to drug addiction.
Start Your Drug Addiction Treatment At Evoke Wellness MA
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, our specialists are available around the clock to help you find the best treatment. Evoke Wellness MA offers solution-focused and evidence-based addiction treatment. We pride ourselves in leading our patients on the road to a happier and healthier lifestyle, free from the crutches of drug addiction. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us or visit our website today. You can even give us a call if you just have a question, we are always happy to answer and help in any way we can.