Drug abuse is a serious issue in the United States. The opioid epidemic, for example, has been going on for decades and America has yet to make a dent in the problem. The country has yet to find a way to remedy the problem. Even though it has been going on for decades, it remains a top priority for policymakers. Drugs directly affect the brain, the organ responsible for controlling all bodily functions. It is also in charge of forming memories, thinking, and regulating behavior. Addictive drugs have a negative effect on the brain and its capacity to function normally.
The Biology of Addiction
When people take drugs repeatedly over a long period, the nerve cells in these brain circuits can change so that they require more drugs to feel good or function normally. The result is that drug use becomes compulsive or addictive behavior—even after the person stops taking drugs their body may need time to get back to normal. Drug addiction is a complex topic with many biological factors affecting the brain and the central nervous system that controls all bodily functions. Drugs of abuse, such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines cause addiction by triggering a chain of events in the brain involving neurotransmitters. These drugs act on dopamine receptors in the brain’s reward circuits to produce feelings of euphoria. They also act on other neurotransmitters called opioid receptors to produce feelings of pain relief and pleasure.
The Path From Drug Abuse to Addiction and Vice versa
There are many factors that go into how a person becomes addicted to drugs and how a person recovers from addiction. However, there are some commonalities between the two paths. One of these commonalities is an increased tolerance with use and a need for more drugs to get high. Another similarity between people who abuse drugs and those who become addicts is that they may have social problems such as trouble making friends or trouble interacting with family members.
Why We Need Self-Awareness to Combat Drug and Alcohol Abuse
We are more likely to make the right decisions and know our limits when we know ourselves or when we can recognize the signs of drug abuse in a family member or a friend.
Being Aware of the Signs of Dependence and Abuse in Yourself
The good news is that there are warning signs of addiction and abuse that you can be on the lookout for. They may include:
- Spending more money than you make, or spending more than you can afford on a habit or activity.
- Feeling like you have lost control of your impulse to use substances.
- Putting off other responsibilities and obligations to fulfill your addiction or abuse.
- Experiencing negative consequences from your drug use or addictive habit, such as losing your job, getting arrested, getting injured, or developing a mental health issue.
- Continuing to use drugs despite experiencing negative consequences.
Recognizing the Dangers of Substance Use Disorders in Others People
Substance use disorders have a wide range of symptoms. There are certain warning signs that you can look out for determining if someone has an addiction. The signs and symptoms of a substance use disorder vary depending on the person and the type of substance they are abusing. Substance use disorders may also be associated with other conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD.
Some warning signs that someone may have a substance use disorder include:
- Possessing drugs in inappropriate locations or at inappropriate times
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that were previously enjoyed
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Frequent mood swings
- Neglecting responsibilities due to drug misuse
In conclusion, drug addiction changes both the natural chemistry of our brains and the way we live our lives. It can create an artificially powerful feeling of pleasure or relief from pain that has nothing to do with how we really feel inside. Your best option if you or a loved one are addicted to drugs is to ask for help from a drug rehab facility. Will power alone is not enough to quit. This is because addiction hijacks the brain’s reward system and clouds its judgment about what is good for us and what isn’t. Call us at 833-364-0736.