|Addiction and Drug Abuse|
ADDICTION AND DRUG ABUSE
What is drug addiction?
Addiction is defined as chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain- the change the structure and how it works. These brain changes can be lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.
Why do people take drugs?
In general, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons:
At first, people may perceive what seem positive effects with drug use. They also may believe that they can control their use; however, drugs can quickly take over their lives. Consider how a social drinker can become intoxicated, put him behind a wheel and quickly turn a pleasurable activity into a tragedy for him and others. Over time, if drug use continues, pleasurable activities becomes less pleasurable, and drug abuse becomes a necessary for abusers to simply feel “ normal “. Drug abusers reach a point where they seek and take drugs, despite the tremendous problems caused for themselves and their loved ones. Some individuals may start to feel the need to take higher or more frequent doses, even in the early stages of their drug use.
Is continued drug abuse a voluntary behavior?
The initial decision to take drugs is mostly voluntary, However, when drug use takes over, a person’s ability to exert self control can become seriously impaired. Brain imaging studies from drug addicted individuals show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgement, learning, and memory, and behavior control. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works, and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction.
Why do some people become addicted to drugs, while others do not?
As with any other disease. vulnerability to addiction differs from person to person. In general, the more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs will lead to abuse and addiction. “ Positive “ factors reduce a person’s risk of developing addiction.
Which biological factors increase risk of addiction?
Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 per cent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction. including the effects of environment on gene expression and function. Adolescents and individuals with mental disorders are greater risk of drug abuse and addiction than the general population.
What environmental factors increase the risk of addiction?
The brain continues to develop into adulthood and undergoes dramatic changes during adolescences.
One of the brain areas still maturing during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex- the part of the brain that enable us to assess situations, make sound decisions, and keep our emotions and desire under control. The fact that this critical part of the adolescent’s brain is still a work in-progress puts them at increase risk for poor decisions ( such as trying drugs or continued abuse ). Also, introducing drugs while the brain is still developing may have profound and long lasting consequences.