Understanding Drug Misuse and Addiction

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Why and how other people become addicted to drugs? That’s the question that crosses to our mind when we saw an addict person. Sometimes, assumed that drug users are commonly lack of self-control and that’s why they couldn’t stop using drugs and resulting to change their behaviors. Facing the reality today, drug addiction is a very complicated disease, and quitting it can take more than good intentions. In fact, because of drugs it changes the brain in ways that faster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who trying to do so. Through scientific advances, we had enough knowledge more about how drugs work in the brain than ever, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people end using drugs and lead productive lives.

Drug misuse and addiction have disadvantages for individuals and for society. Estimates of the total overall costs of substance abuse in the United States, including productivity and health- and crime-related costs, exceed 600 billion dollars annually. This includes approximately 181 billion dollars for illicit drugs, 193 billion dollars for tobacco, and 235 billion dollars for alcohol. As surprising as these numbers are, they do not fully describe the breadth of vicious public health and safety implications of drug misuse and addiction, such as Broken Family, loss of occupation, child abuse, domestic violence, and failure in school.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Addiction is a long-lasting, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her. Although the primary decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the brain changes that happen over time challenge a person’s self-control and ability to resist strong impulses urging them to take drugs. Luckily, treatments are available to help people counter addiction’s powerful disruptive effects. Research shows that merging addiction treatment medications with behavioral therapy is the best method to ensure success for most patients.

Treatment methods that are tailored to each patient’s drug abuse patterns and any co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and social problems can lead to continuous recovery and a life without drug abuse. Similar to other chronic, relapsing diseases, such asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, drug addiction can be managed successfully. Furthermore, as with other chronic diseases, it is not uncommon for a person to relapse and begin abusing drugs again. Relapse, however, does not signal treatment failure—rather, it shows that treatment should be returned, adjusted, or that an alternative treatment is needed to help the individual regain control and recover.

Why do some people become addicted while others do not?

No single aspect can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Threat for addiction is influenced by a mixture of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or phase of development. The higher risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that containing drugs can lead to addiction. For instance:

  • Home and Family

The influence of the home environment, particularly during childhood, is a very big factor. The Parents or older family members who abuse alcohol or drugs, or engaged in criminal behavior, can possibly increase children’s risks of developing their own drug problems.

  • Peer and School

Friends and acquaintances had a strong influence during adolescence. Drug-using peers can influence even those without risk factors to try drugs for the first time. Academic failure or poor social skills can put a child at further danger for using and becoming addicted to drugs.

What other factors increase the risk of addiction?

  • Early Use

While taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, research illustrates that the earlier a person begins to use drugs, the more likely he or she is to develop severe problems. This may reflect the harmful effect that drugs can have on the developing brain; it also may effect from a mix of initial social and biological vulnerability factors, as well as unstable family relationships, exposure to physical or sexual abuse, genetic susceptibility, or mental illness. Still, the fact will remains that early use is a strong indicator of problems ahead, including addiction.

  • Biological factors increase the risk of addiction

Scientists approximation that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s defenselessness to addiction; this includes the effects of environmental causes on the function and expression of a person’s genes. A person’s phase of development and additional medical conditions they may have are also factors. Adolescents and people with mental disorders are at bigger risk of drug abuse and addiction than the general population.

Effects of Drugs to your Brain

Drugs contain chemicals that tap into the brain’s communication system and disruption the way nerve cells usually send, receive, and process information. There are at least two ways that drugs effect this disruption: (1) by imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers and (2) by overstimulating the “reward circuit” of the brain. There are some drugs (e.g., marijuana and heroin) have a alike structure to chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, which are certainly produced by the brain.

This resemblance allows the drugs to “fool” the brain’s receptors and trigger nerve cells to send abnormal messages. Other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can cause the nerve cells to release unusually large amounts of natural neurotransmitters (mainly dopamine) or to prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals, which is required to shut off the signaling between neurons. The result is a brain lacking in dopamine, a neurotransmitter presents in brain regions that control the movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure.

The overstimulation of this reward system, which normally answers to natural behaviors linked to survival (eating, spending time with loved ones, etc.), produces euphoric effects in response to psychoactive drugs. This response sets in motion a reinforcing pattern that “teaches” people to recurrence the rewarding behavior of abusing drugs. If a person continues to abuse drugs, the brain familiarizes to the overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. The result is a decreasing of dopamine’s impact on the reward circuit, which lessens the abuser’s ability to enjoy the drugs, as well as the events in life that formerly brought pleasure.

This decrease compels the addicted person to keep abusing drugs in an attempt to convey the dopamine function back to normal, except now larger amounts of the drug are required to reach the same dopamine high—an effect known as tolerance. Long-term abuse causes of changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that impacts the reward circuit and the ability to learn. When the optimal concentration of glutamate is changed by drug abuse, the brain tries to compensate, which can impair cognitive function. Brain imaging studies of drug-addicted individuals show variations in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Together, these changes can drive an abuser to seek out and take drugs spontaneously despite adverse, even devastating consequences—that is the nature of addiction.

Prevention Is the Key

Drug addiction is one of a preventable disease. Results from NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) -funded research have shown that prevention programs involving of families, schools, communities, and the media are effective in reducing drug abuse. Even though many events and cultural factors affect drug abuse trends, when youths perceive drug abuse as harmful, they reduce their drug taking. Thus, education and outreach are key in assisting youth and the general public understand the risks of drug abuse. Teachers, parents, medical and public health professionals must keep sending the message that drug addiction can be prevented if one never abuses the so called drugs.

Cite this paper

Understanding Drug Misuse and Addiction. (2021, Mar 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/understanding-drug-misuse-and-addiction/

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