Many people who have never tried drugs do not understand how or why other people become addicted to them. Because many of us perceive drug use (even recreationally) as a harmful behavior, we tend to mistakenly assume that drug abusers simply lack willpower or moral principles. We also often believe that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their destructive behavior. The ugly truth is that drug addiction is an extremely complex disease and quitting takes more than just good intentions and a strong will.
If you suspect that your friend or a family member is abusing drugs, or if you’re worried about your own drug use, it’s important to know that even though breaking an addiction is tough, it can be done, especially when help is available. Here, at our addiction clinic in Pompano Beach, our addiction doctors know a lot about the nature of drug abuse and addiction—how it develops, what it looks like, and why it can have such a powerful hold. They have a thorough understanding of the problem and know to best help those who struggle with it.
What is drug addiction
Drug addiction is a chronic, often relapsing* brain disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug-seeking behavior and drug use, tendency to increase the dose, and/or psychological or physical dependence, all of which happen despite detrimental consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her.
Long-term drug exposure has effects on brain function – it affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs. Once addicted, they crave the drug, despite having lost control over its use and experiencing adverse consequences as a result. Brain imaging studies of drug-addicted individuals show changes in areas of the brain that are critical to learning and memory, decision-making, judgment, and behavior control.
For most people, the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary. However, as mentioned before, long-term drug use changes the brain. As a result, it affects the addicted person’s control his or her ability to resist the intense urge to use.
*Relapse in this context is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop. It is important know that relapse does not necessarily mean the treatment has failed but rather, that the treatment should be repeated or adjusted, or that an alternative treatment should be considered.
What happens to your brain when you take drugs?
Drugs are chemicals which affect (disrupt) the way brain nerve cells send, receive and process information. It usually happens in two ways:
- By imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers;
- By overstimulating the “reward circuit” of the brain.
Almost all drugs target, directly or indirectly, the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that control the brain‘s reward and pleasure centers but also influence movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. Dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson’s disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. The presence of a certain kind of dopamine receptor is also associated with sensation-seeking people, more commonly known as “risk takers.” Source.
The reward circuit in the brain normally responds to anything that gives us pleasure – good food, spending time with loved ones, laughter, sex, etc. The use of drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine can cause the overstimulation of the reward circuit of the brain through a release of abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or by preventing the normal recycling of these brain chemicals. This disruption produces an euphoric sensation in the body in response to the drugs but ultimately destroys normal communication patterns. This reaction sets in motion a pattern that “teaches” people to repeat the behavior of abusing drugs.
Regular use of drugs makes the brain adapt to the dopamine surges by producing less dopamine or reducing the number of dopamine receptors. To replicate the pre-drug state, the drug user must use drugs again to bring his or her dopamine function back to ”normal” or use more drugs to achieve a dopamine high.
Pain medication addiction should not be ignored – Addiction Clinic in Pompano Beach
Pain medication addiction affects roughly 10% of the general population. This devastating disease cuts across all classes, both rich and poor. Prescription opioid abuse kills about 14,000 people annually, and affects millions more individuals and their families. Suboxone Treatment can be a useful alternative for doctors to assist their patients.
Our addiction doctors are certified specialists in the field of pain management and addiction. Our addiction treatment practice provides the necessary facilities and staff to treat people who are suffering from pain and addiction. The personnel and the clinic work together with the patient to help them break their dependence and get back to normal life.
If you or a loved one is suffering from pain medication addiction, contact us today for a confidential consultation at 954 543 5100. We are located in Pompano Beach, Florida.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.