Many people don’t understand how people can become addicted to drugs. They think, “They just don’t have enough will power,” or, “That must mean they have very low moral principals,” a common mistake. Just as a lot of other things in real life, drug addiction is much more complex than that. Even with a strong will, in most cases, it takes much more to quit once you become addicted, due to the fact that drugs can alter the way your brain works.
So what is drug addiction?
Drug addiction starts with drug abuse, which is different. Drug abuse is when you use legal OR illegal substances in ways you shouldn’t. Some examples are taking more pills than the regular dose, using someone else’s prescription, or to get high(relieves stress for awhile/avoids reality). The part where it turns from drug abuse to drug addiction is when you can’t stop using it, not if your health is in danger. The more you use drugs, the more you feel like you need it and become dependent you on it to feel, “happy.” (The worst cases of drug addiction is when you have the urge to take drugs all the time, and can’t seem to stop thinking about it even if you want to stop.)
Effects on the brain from drug addiction:
When a person first takes drugs, he/she feels high, the result of euphoria and the chemical messenger dopamine being released. This is known as the brain’s “reward circuit,” which is a system that prompts people to repeat behaviors needed to thrive. If a person continues to take drugs, dopamine keeps on flowing throughout one’s body, causing your body to want to repeat those behaviors. Eventually, the brain adapts by reducing the ability of the cells in the reward circuit to respond, an effect called tolerance. The high that someone feels the first time the drug was taken was much stronger than the high after someone has been taking drugs for weeks. Oftentimes, to try to achieve the same high, people start taking larger quantities of drugs and/or increasing the concentration. When the brain has adapted like this, then other activities that one used to enjoy aren’t as pleasurable anymore, such as spending time with friends/family, food, or hobbies. In a sense, people start losing themselves.
Over a long period of time, other brain circuits/systems can change, affecting functions such as:
- Ability to learn
- Decision Making
“Drugs take you to hell… disguised as heaven.”Donald Lyn Frost
What influences the risk to becoming addicted to drugs?
(Important: Although some people can get addicted easier than others,
EVERYBODY HAS THE RISK OF BECOMING ADDICTED TO DRUGS IF THEY CHOOSE TO TAKE IT. It’s the only way of ensuring that you will not become addicted to drugs!!)
- Biology: Half of a person’s risk for addiction is in someone’s genes( such as gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders).
- Environment/Development: Family, friends, economic status physical/ sexual abuse, peer pressure, and parental guidance are also strong factors in the likelihood of drug use and addiction.
Although anybody at any age can get addicted to drugs, the younger a person is when they start, the higher the chance is to progress to addiction.
Signs of Addiction:(Warning signs to look out for)
- You don’t take care of yourself or your appearance.
- Stealing, lying, or doing dangerous behaviors.
- You spend more time alone.
- Urges to do drugs multiple times a day.
- Most of your time is spent getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the drugs.
Drug addiction is a terrible thing to get into and is extremely hard to stop, but with time and the correct treatment, it can be overcome. The good news is- is that more and more educational programs are addressing this issue, teaching kids that drugs are harmful.
Don’t let drugs control your life, YOU are the master of your sails.
Share the word, and comment your thoughts on this!