Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person's likelihood of using drugs and becoming addicted. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages of a person's life to affect the risk of addiction. Alcoholism and substance use disorder may be two of the world's least known diseases. An unhealthy and defective dependence on drugs and alcohol can often be due to isolation, loneliness, depression, and other mental and environmental health factors.
Many non-addicts often claim that a person suffering from an addiction simply lacks willpower; if they could only “fix” it or simply “reduce” it, they would be fine. This is a dangerous and outdated way of thinking and has led to the stigmatization of an entire demographic group of people. There is no single cause of drug addiction, not a single reason why people become addicted to drugs. Rather, a person's likelihood of becoming addicted to drugs depends on a combination of social, environmental, developmental, genetic, and psychological factors (called “risk factors”).
The more risk factors a person has, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the greater their vulnerability to drug addiction. Substance use disorders are the result of changes in the brain that can occur with repeated use of alcohol or drugs. The most serious expression of the disorder, addiction, is associated with changes in the function of the brain circuits involved in pleasure (the reward system), learning, stress, decision-making and self-control. Substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder are the leading causes of preventable illness and premature death.
Research has shown that approximately 1 in 9 Americans uses illicit drugs (about 11% of the population). The most common misused drugs are marijuana and prescription drugs. Self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, can help you on the road to recovery. Self-help groups are also available for family members, including the Al-Anon and Nar-Anon family groups.
Participation in 12-step recovery work has been shown to improve outcomes. Neurons communicate with each other and create moods and other sensations through the use of chemicals called neurotransmitters, and drug addiction can change the way neurotransmitters work in the brain. Physical addiction seems to occur when repeated use of a drug changes the way the brain feels pleasure. While drug addiction may start as a voluntary use, many people lose control of their use at some point.
Treatments for drug addiction include psychotherapy, medical detoxification, prescription medications, and support groups. All of these actions can help counteract environmental factors that could contribute to causing drug addiction. For other people, especially with opioids, drug addiction begins with exposure to prescription drugs or receiving medications from a friend or family member who has been prescribed the medication. Over time, drug addiction can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, certain types of cancer, organ damage, neurological problems, and a potentially fatal overdose.
Addiction occurs when the act of consuming a substance takes over these circuits and increases the need to consume more and more of the substance to achieve the same rewarding effect. A review suggests that, of a selection of the most common addictive substances, the heritability of cocaine addiction is the highest. Drug addiction (also known as substance use disorder) can be defined as a progressive disease that causes people to lose control over the use of a substance despite the worsening consequences of that use. Stopping using the medication often causes intense cravings, which is another symptom of withdrawal and addiction.
People who struggle with addiction generally deny that their drug use is problematic and are reluctant to seek treatment. When tolerance increases along with the need to take a substance to avoid withdrawal symptoms, it often indicates the onset of an addictive disorder. If you think you or a loved one has signs and symptoms of drug abuse and addiction, you may need appropriate medical care. While the idea that drug addiction is a lack of will and a sign of misbehavior is diminishing in most progressive areas of society, the idea persists in many circles.
However, researchers still disagree on whether sugar and drugs can be considered addictive in the same way. . .
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