Discussion about drug addiction has ranged from it being a sign of moral failure to being a criminal activity which profits the drug cartels. The consequences of addiction have spread so far and wide in society that it is now regarded as a health crisis. Understanding the science of addiction has moved the debate forward. According to the science; if you are addicted to drugs you are regarded as having a disease. A disease is a condition that changes the way an organ functions and research shows that addiction changes the way your brain works.
Your brain is wired so that when you do something which is beneficial to you as a member of a species such as eating, you are rewarded. The brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. It makes you feel good and your brain learns to repeat the behavior. Drugs do the same thing to the brain but when you take a drug, far greater amounts of dopamine are released than would be as a result of more natural behavior. In order to maintain a balance your brain then reduces natural dopamine production leading you to feel down or crave the substance.
Continued drug use leads to much smaller releases of dopamine, decreasing the reward feeling and as a consequence the brain requires more and more drugs just to function. Once you are hooked you may not even get pleasure from drug taking, you have become dependent on a drug to feel normal. Not taking the drug can make you feel bad; this is what is known as withdrawal.
Scientists have used brain imaging studies to show visible physical changes in the brains of drug addicts. These changes occur in the parts of your brain responsible for decision making, learning and memory, judgment and behavior control. It is believed that this may explain some of the destructive, compulsive and ill judged behaviors of addiction. The altered brain chemistry and the physical changes in the brain could explain why you continue to use a substance which is obviously causing you harm.
Studies are also being carried out to try and establish why some people are more prone to addiction than others. There are biological factors, such as genetics as well as developmental issues such as age. Young brains are still developing; alterations at this time can make young people more susceptible to addiction.
If you think you have a drug addiction problem and would like to quit, we at CASA Recovery in San Juan Capistrano, CA offer an individualized treatment program designed to help you quit taking drugs and lead a fulfilling life. Our team will help you learn new ways of thinking which will help you in your recovery. Understanding the science of addiction helps provide effective treatment and ongoing support. Addiction is an illness; you can get treatment; contact us today for a consultation and let the healing process begin.