Insight into the world of drug addiction

To ‘really’ understand the depths of addiction, let’s begin with statistics that depict the substantial addiction people have fallen victims to. More than 23 million people are addicted to alcohol or any form of drugs. To break it down, it represents one person out of ten and sadly over ninety percent of those people began drinking alcohol or smoking before they were eighteen. Not many understand that when people are addicted to drugs, there is a lot more to it than just a social problem. Drug addiction goes beyond that. Of course, conviction of the user matters. But the actual psychology can be understood through a proven logical and scientific explanation.

Drug addiction is a complex brain disorder that causes an excessive dependency towards the illegal drug or medication the user is taking. Yes, it is true that it is the individual’s decision to misuse the drug on a daily basis, however over a period of time the structural and functional component of the brain begins to change.

So what does actually happen in the brain with the use of drugs?

The brain with its remarkable memory registers all the pleasures. So whether it’s a drug, delicious food or money, it all gets stored. This happens when a neurotransmitter known as Dopamine is released in response to the pleasurable action or feeling. It basically controls movement, emotions and motivation. Its hyper-stimulation due to the consumption of the illicit drug or alcohol tends to produce euphoric effects (reward pathway). This particular response makes the person repeat the behavior.

Also, the path of administration influences the intensity of addiction. An intravenous intake produces a faster dopamine stimulation and thus, a quicker addiction compared to smoking a drug or drinking alcohol.

The long term use of drugs causes the brain to get accustomed to the surge of dopamine and in turn produces less amounts of dopamine which requires more abuse of the drug to bring the neurotransmitters level back to normal.

With so many changes occurring in the brain, the individual’s decision making, judgment, memory and behavior pattern is affected adversely.

Drug Addiction- How to help

Drug addiction is something which can be curbed and prevented. Since addiction is regarded as a disorder, treatment is essentially required. Various factors coalesce together such as lifestyle, social and economic status, friends and stress which probe the person to succumb to drugs as a rescue. It is thus important to help the individual understand the risks that come with it. Every patient has a different treatment based on the type of drug used and its longevity.

Behavior Therapy is the first line of treatment which brings motivation, ways to cope with the addiction and relapse. It helps people improve their relationships, family dynamics and work skills. Alongside behavior therapy, medications are also given based on their health and psychological status. These treatments tend to take a lot of effort, patience and dedication of the user as well as the professional health counsellor due to the multiple interventions and follow up.

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