Although it’s just as serious as many other health conditions, there’s a stigma surrounding substance abuse that prevents a lot of people from seeking the help they need. What many people don’t know is that addiction is a complex brain disorder characterized by compulsive substance use despite its detrimental consequences.
Contrary to the common misconception, those who struggle with drug dependence don’t lack moral principles or willpower; they can’t just wake up one day and decide to quit. Recovering from any form of addiction takes more than good intentions or a firm resolve because certain drugs impact the brain in several ways that make quitting extremely difficult. To help raise awareness on the subject, here’s what everyone should know about drug addiction.
How Do Drugs Affect the Brain?
Excessive or repeated drug use causes neurological changes that dampen the addict’s self-control, impairing their ability to resist the urge to take drugs. You see, drugs contain chemicals similar to the feel-good chemicals our bodies produce naturally. When one takes heroin, methamphetamine, or any similar drugs, they experience a surge of happiness, which consequently prompts their brain to reward them for doing something that brings them pleasure by releasing more dopamine. As a result, they will continue to take drugs to maintain these intense feelings of euphoria, thus entering the vicious cycle of drug use and intense highs.
With prolonged drug abuse, addicts eventually find themselves taking drugs just to feel normal. Long-term drug use also affects other brain functions, including learning, decision-making, memory retention, and recollection, etc. These neurological impacts usually persist after quitting, which is why sobriety is a lifelong process for recovering addicts.
How to Deal with Drug Addiction?
As is the case with other chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes, there’s no real cure for drug dependence. However, while it can’t be cured once and for all, substance abuse can be successfully managed. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral and psychological therapy increases the patients’ chances at recovery. As most Houston-based clinicians and psychotherapists believe, a rehab center should provide personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual’s drug use patterns, taking into consideration their family history, physical condition, and mental health. A holistic approach that aims to treat the mind, body, and spirit through different treatment modalities can maximize the patients’ chances of recovery.
What Makes Some People More Prone to Addiction than Others?
There’s no one factor that can determine whether a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of genetic, developmental, and environmental factors affects one’s risk for substance abuse. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances at developing an addiction if you take drugs recreationally. Although taking drugs at any age can escalate into dependence, the earlier a person starts using drugs, the more likely they are to become dependent on them. That is why drug addiction is quite common among those who started using as teenagers.
As you should be able to tell by now, drug dependence is a complex and challenging disorder to overcome. It is, however, treatable and can be managed successfully. With the help of professional therapists and clinicians and the support of their loved ones, those who struggle with drug addiction or any other form of substance abuse can overcome their inner demons, resist the temptation to use, and follow the path to recovery.