Regardless of how much information is pumped into the mainstream about substance abuse, drug addiction, and drug treatment, many people continue to believe abusers and addicts lack moral purpose, principles, and the willpower to stop and make a more productive life from the one they currently have. Most people still consider this path of drugs and alcohol a life-style choice. Simply put, drugs change the brain, which makes it even harder to quit. The good news is that more is known about how alcohol and other drugs affect the brain, and because of this addiction can be successfully treated.
So, what happens to your brain while you take drugs? The brain’s communication system is tapped into by the chemicals in specific drugs. There is a disruption on sending, receiving, and processing all information; skewing the results, sometimes dramatically. Drugs imitate the natural chemical messages, and they also overstimulate the brain; offering ‘rewards’ of pleasure. As a person continues to use alcohol and drugs, the brain works to adapt to the overstimulation by producing less dopamine, a neurotransmitter present in brain regions that control emotion, movement, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. This ultimately leads to less pleasure even when drugs are introduced; therefore the body and mind crave more. Now, larger amounts of drugs are needed to find that same ‘high.’
As long-term abuse continues, the brain does change. Areas of the brain, the parts that are critical to judgment, decision-making, memory and learning, and behavior are noticeably affected. These changes can actually be seen by brain imaging scans. This change is typically what drives the abuser to seek alcohol and drugs compulsively, which is what leads from abuse to addiction.
Because there isn’t ONE single factor that can predict if someone becomes addicted, it is typically a combination of factors that lead to addiction. The more factors, the greater the chance the person will become an addict. In fact, some people have a gene that predisposes them to addiction, but that alone doesn’t create addiction. Often times in this situation their environmental influence, such as; family and friends, socio-economic status, and quality of life, directly add to the persons vulnerability. The earlier these factors combine, the greater success addiction has over the individual.
If an adolescent begins using drugs and alcohol at a young age and they have both genetic and environmental factors in play, the chances are higher as opposed to someone starting drugs and alcohol use at a later age.
Recovery Rob BIO
Recovery Rob is a 47-year-old man who has more than nineteen years of sobriety, whose drugs of choice at one time were alcohol and drugs, and he has worked in and around the field of addiction for more than 20 years. Having just recently launched his own website, which is under construction, he hopes to reach out and continue to help others who work through their process of addiction and recovery. Recovery Rob is a professional writer who has published two novels and is currently working on his third. He has been writing and working as Pat Moore Foundation’s premiere blogger and content writer, which helps keeps Pat Moore Foundation’s addiction and recovery blog top-rated.