The National Institute on Drug Abuse declares that addiction is a treatable brain disease, affecting the thoughts as well as the actions of a person. An estimated one in seven people in the United States struggle with addiction. Any individual struggling with addiction may want to get help but will continue to use even after multiple failed attempts at recovery. Addiction is a disease. It does not have any preference for gender, age, ethnicity, social status, or religion. Addiction can affect anyone and willpower is often not enough to make a full recovery. People who experience addiction need access to effective treatment.
Addiction vs. Abuse
The difference between addiction and abuse is a blurred line. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. Abusing a substance means that an individual has very symptoms of addiction. They do not have all the signs of addiction. Substance abuse is often a stepping stone toward addiction in that it is not as severe as full addiction. Addiction means that an individual will not stop using their drug of choice even when faced with apparent consequences of drug use. Individuals experiencing addiction will display many symptoms of addiction.
What is Addiction? The Science Behind an Addicted Brain
Addiction triggers a series of chemical reactions within the brain. An addictive substance will cause the brain to release natural chemicals such as dopamine responsible for feelings of euphoria. Fundamentally, an addicted brain believes that it’s receiving a reward with every drug use. Dopamine is the natural reward system that encourages us to continue; however, sustained, long-term abuse causes these chemicals to release without cause and confuses the body. Eventually, the brain will no longer be able to naturally produce dopamine and will rely solely on drug use.
The Consequences of Addiction
Throughout many rehabilitation programs and studies, the consequences of addiction will impact nearly all aspects of a person’s life. Addiction can affect a person’s financial stability, work, friends, family, the ability to have intimate relationships, and personal goals. These consequences, however, have a very different effect on each person individually.
A common myth with treatment is that a person won’t seek help until they’ve hit rock bottom. Unfortunately, for many people struggling with addiction, rock bottom is death. You don’t have to wait for death to knock on your door to be free from addiction. You can decide to get help today.