Drug addiction is not the sufferer’s fault, it is actually a disease which is affecting their brain and their behaviour. When people are addicted to drugs, they cannot stop themselves from using, no matter what the consequences.
At first, people choose to take drugs because of the way it makes them feel. They might think that their use is controlled, to begin with, but over time, using the drug more and more can cause someone to become addicted. The changes in the brain can make you lose self-control and cause damaging side effects both physically and mentally. If they become addicted they may require rehab.
Addiction or Abuse?
Drug abuse is when someone uses a legal or illegal substance in a way that they shouldn’t. This could be taking more than the recommended amount of a medication, or taking someone else’s medication. People choose to abuse drugs as a way to escape reality, destress, and feel euphoric. Those who abuse drugs can usually stop their use, or change their habits.
Drug addiction is when someone cannot stop themselves from taking drugs. They don’t stop even when their health is in danger, and they don’t stop if it causes emotional problems or financial problems. Their day is filled with an urge to find drugs and use them, even if they want to quit.
How does drug addiction affect your brain?
Your brain is made to make you want to re-do experiences which you enjoy and make you feel pleasurable. This is to motivate you to do it again.
Drugs that are addictive, such as heroin and cocaine, target how your brain rewards your body. They make your brain release a chemical called dopamine (reward chemical) which creates a feeling of high pleasure. You will keep using a drug to get this feeling.
Over a prolonged period, your brain will actually get used to the extra dopamine. You will end up needing to take more of the drug to get the desired effect. You will have a low supply of the reward chemical left, so you will feel less pleasure in ‘normal’ activities such as eating a tasty meal, or hanging out with friends and family.
Using drugs for a long period of time can also affect your judgement, decision making, memory, and learning part of the brain. Together, all these impairments can work to make you find and use drugs beyond your normal control.