Addiction & Dependency Treatment
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a disease that causes a person to continue to use drugs and alcohol even when they know it is causing them harm. It can manifest both physically and psychologically, as the patient craves mood-altering substances like alcohol and drugs. Addiction is a progressive disease, which means it will only get worse if left untreated.
Symptoms of Addiction
Addiction can destroy a person's life if left unchecked. Common symptoms of addiction can include any of the following:
- An increased tolerance for alcohol or drugs
- Cravings or preoccupation with alcohol or drugs
- Loss of control
- Denial and rationalization of the disease itself
Addiction & The Brain
Many people assume that addiction is simply a matter of individual willpower, but research shows that it comes down wiring in the brain. When a patient uses a substance like alcohol, it releases dopamine in the brain. Over time, if a patient continues to abuse the substance, the brain will begin to produce less natural dopamine. As a result, the brain will begin craving the substance to release more dopamine just in order to feel normal.
This all takes place in an area of the brain we call the reward center the same place that regulates and reinforces natural rewards that are vital to our existence, such as food and sex. That is why the addicted brain can pursue alcohol and other drugs as if they are needed for mere survival, and why people with addiction can place that pursuit irrationally above almost all other priorities.
Many social, psychological, genetic and other factors make some people more vulnerable than others to developing addiction. No one chooses to develop the disease. Two people may start out using similarly and one may progress to addiction, based on that variety of factors, while one may not.
People who have developed addiction can no longer use alcohol and other drugs like others do. Their brain chemistry has changed in a way that can be brought back into balance but that will always be vulnerable to resumed use.
The below video the delves into the opioid epidemic was created and distributed by the EA and FBI. Watch to learn more about the opioid epidemic in America, its dangers, and what you can do to help: