Drug addiction is a condition characterized by drug seeking and uncontrollable craving for the drug despite its harmful consequences. When you are addicted, you are not able to control your drug use and you become unable to resist your brain needs for drugs even if you are totally aware of the different risks that drug causes. The changes that drug causes to your brain may be persistent and that is the reason why drug addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease. People in recovery from drug use are at increased risk for returning to drug addiction even after years of not taking the drug. Drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the law.
How do drugs affect Your Brain?
Most drugs affect the brain’s reward circuit by flooding it with the chemical messenger dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. When activated at normal levels, this system rewards our natural behaviors. Overstimulating the reward circuit with drugs produces euphoric effects, which greatly lead people to take a drug again and again. As a person continues to use drugs, the brain adjusts to the excess dopamine by making less of it and/or reducing the ability of cells in the reward circuit to respond to it. This reduces the pleasure that the person feels compared to the pleasure they felt when taking the drug to the first time. So they have a feeling that they want to take more of the drug in order to achieve the same dopamine high. And this may also cause them get less pleasure from other activities they once enjoyed.
What are the factors that mainly contribute to drug abuse?
1. Environment: The environment where a person grows up can have a great influence over drug abuse. Living in an environment in which drug is rampant can contribute to addiction. Also, other factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress can affect a person’s likelihood of drug addiction.
2. Development: Indeed taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, but if a person begins to take drugs very early, he will have a higher risk of addiction. This represents a big problem for teenagers because areas in their brain that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control are still developing so they are particularly more prone to risky behaviors such as taking drugs.
3. Biology: The genes that people are born with account for about half of a person’s risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity,` and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence risk for drug use and addiction.