Drug addiction is a disorder in which the brain and the behavior of a person is affected, which leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or an illegal drug or medication.
When addicted a person continues to use the drug despite the harm caused due to it.
Addiction is a painful disorder, which keeps the family and friends wondering as to why one continues the drug abuse when it’s clear that they are destroying their life.
The drugs affect the way the brain communicates and interprets information. Brain disruption can occur in two ways (5)
- By imitating the natural chemical messengers in the brain
- Overstimulation of the reward circuit of the brain
The response of the brain depends on the type of drug used.
Why Do People Get Addicted To Drugs?
There are several factors which make some people more vulnerable to addiction than others (1)
- Genetics: Alcoholism and drug abuse run in family. Genes give information on how the body responds at the cellular level. There is evidence that the presence of certain genes, involved in the metabolism of alcohol and nerve signal transmission increase the risk of becoming dependant on drugs and alcohol (2)
- Social Environment: Social environment, as where people live, attend school, work environment also matters. Alcohol and drugs are mostly used in social gatherings as a way to bond. Social interaction and environment fire up the brain’s reward pathways and can have both positive and negative effect on different individuals.
- Age of First Use: Children who start with alcohol and drugs before the age of 13 are more likely to become addicted to it (3). Moderate level of abuse can also cause damage to the brain which is not matured until the age of 25.
- Mental Illness: Half of the drug abusers and one-third of alcoholics are also seen coping with mental illness such as anxiety and depression. Similarly half of those suffering from some mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia have drug abuse disorder (4). Both theses disorder are co-occurring disorders and are found coexisting with each other.
- Early Childhood Trauma: Childhood abuse can lead to distress which can alter the brains chemistry and make a child more vulnerable to addiction in their later life. Neglect, sexual, physical and psychological abuse, physical and emotion abandonment are all type of trauma.
- Adult Trauma: Loss of loved ones such as child, friend, and spouse can lead to post-traumatic stress. Such individual tends to self medicate using drugs and alcohol. This leads to addiction. This condition can lead to dependency and addiction.
Drug addiction can start with experimental use of a drug or alcohol. Gradually it becomes more frequent. The risk and how fast you become addicted depends on the type of drug being used. As time passes the addict might need larger doses to get high. As the quantity of drug increase, it becomes more difficult to go without it and an attempt to stop might make you feel ill.
Those addicted need help from doctors, family, friends and support organizations to overcome the addiction and stay drug-free.
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