The Science Behind Addiction

The Science Behind Addiction

There are some common misconceptions about drug abuse and who becomes addicted. Controversies exist about why one person will be an addict while another escapes the danger. People may assume those who are addicted need to be stronger or have more willpower to overcome the cravings. What many fail to realize is that drug addiction is a disease, one that alters the way the brain functions.

It’s important for people to understand what causes addiction and why it can be so difficult to overcome. If they are able to comprehend the facts behind this condition, they can be more supportive to those who suffer from addiction.

The Brain and Drugs

Drugs affect the brain’s chemical makeup, especially with hormones that control pleasure and the ability to feel good. The system includes different hormones which regulates a person’s ability to feel happy and be motivated. These chemicals cause a person to repeat certain behaviors which makes them feel good, including eating or spending time with someone they love.

When the chemicals create an intense feeling of pleasure, it’s known as a “high.” You can have a natural high or one that is brought on by drug use. When a person experiences this high, the brain leads them to want to feel it again and again.

The brain makes less of the chemical and relies on the illegal drug to create the feeling of happiness. At the same time, the feeling of pleasure is less than what it was at first, which means the person needs more of drug to create that same sensation.

The Factors of Addiction

Not everyone who takes a drug or drinks alcohol will become addicted. Many other factors play an important role in creating the right situation for addiction to occur. These factors may include:

  • Genetics – including gender and ethnicity as well as family history of drug abuse and mental disorders
  • Environment – the type of environment a person lives in will impact their risk of addiction, such as peer pressure, exposure to drugs, abuse and stress

Understand that your loved one may be unable to change their behaviors even if they want to stop abusing drugs. Encourage them to seek out help because they may not be able to recover on their own.