According to the National Institute on Drug Addiction (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.
Addiction Will Not Happen to Everyone
Not everyone gets addicted to drugs, but that doesn’t mean that you should try drugs to see if you do or not. No single factor can predict whether or not a person will become addicted to drugs. The risk for addiction is influenced by a person’s biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.
A common misperception is that those with addiction can just stop, that it is a choice or moral problem. But nothing could be further from the truth. The brain changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state. The more drugs or alcohol you’ve taken, the more disruptive it is to the brain. Also the more drugs you do the more you crave them and it’s just a vicious cycle.
The Science Behind Craving Drugs
So why do some people crave drugs? A healthy brain rewards healthy behaviors—like exercising, eating, or bonding with loved ones. It does this by switching on brain circuits that make you feel wonderful, which then motivates you to repeat those behaviors.
The same goes for when you use drugs that trigger the pleasure sensors of the brain. You do drugs that make you feel good then the brain hooks you into wanting more and more drugs. Addiction can also send your emotional danger-sensing circuits into overdrive, making you feel anxious and stressed when you’re not using drugs or alcohol. At this stage, people often use drugs or alcohol to keep from feeling bad rather than for their pleasurable effects. This is also known as going into withdrawals.
Drug Addiction Can Happen to Anyone
Unfortunately, even with the wealth of information becoming available about the disease of addiction, it is still impossible to point out exactly who will and who will not become addicted. Instead, it is a bit of an educated guessing game by taking all risk factors into account. So that being said, if you are having difficulty using drugs or alcohol responsibly, or are at high risk for addiction, it is best to remain sober.
Drug Addiction Help at Garden State Treatment Center
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Garden State Treatment Center can help. We’re an experienced and highly trained team that has helped pull hundreds of families just like yours from the jaws of addiction and despair.
We are a Joint Commission (JCAHO) accredited facility, which shows our commitment to continue elevating our standards and providing superior treatment for substance abuse. Begin the journey to recovery today.