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Addiction

Addiction and The Brain

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/video/addiction/

EXCELLENT VIDEO!  See how addiction affects the brain. Hear firsthand from individuals struggling with addiction and follow the cutting-edge work of doctors and scientists as they investigate why addiction is not a moral failing, but a chronic, treatable medical condition. Easy access to drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and even prescription medications like OxyContin has fueled an epidemic of addiction—the deadliest in U.S. history. Now, science is revealing how addiction affects the brain, and top experts are gathering evidence about how we should address our drug problem, from embracing evidence-based treatments, to rethinking public policies. (Premiered October 17, 2018)

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Addiction

Addiction: A Choice or A Disease?

 

Addiction Is A Disorder

For years people have debated on whether or not drug dependency is a moral disorder or an illness. Many people first of all noticed addicts as people lacking free will, however, new medical theories have helped to create a higher knowledge of addiction these days.

The reality is, addiction is a disorder, not a preference.

Many people who disagree with this notion frequently argue that the addicts made the decision to use the substance in the first place, however, while this may be true, it’s of little significance. Many people try pills socially without ever becoming addicts. Others, however, may also have an illness or an organic predisposition to dependency. Drugs can affect the mind physically, creating an urge or want for the user to maintain abusing the substance. When dependency steps in, it is almost impossible to reverse without expert help.

A Look at Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides a comprehensive definition of drug addiction as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.”  They go on to say that addiction is recognized as a brain disease because drugs literally cause changes to the brain. This may be a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s true.

The main factor here is that, as soon as someone is hooked on a drug, they want to continue to use regardless of the harm it’s doing to them and everybody around them. They don’t care that they may be labeled as “crack heads” or that it’s terrible for them, they may want to stop but unable to stop.

Addiction as “A Disease”

In many approaches, dependency is similar to the diseases of diabetes and bronchial asthma affecting hundreds of people. For starters, like asthmatic patients in remission who still have at times shortness of breath and symptoms at odd moments, addicts normally tend to have numerous relapses before improving. Secondly, like those illnesses addiction may be managed and dealt with.

However, extremely important, the dependency is taken into consideration to be a disorder because it alters the natural state of the mind. It now creates a compulsive desire for the addict to maintain the use of the substance however it also pushes them to make irrational or unreasonable picks and blame others for his or her dependency.

Without getting too sciencey, allow’s take a closer study of how dependency changes the brain.

How Addiction Alters The Brain

Addictive drugs when taken create changes in the pleasure area in the brain. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain is the part of the brain that is responsible for your emotions, feelings, motivation, and pleasure.  Brain scans have shown when someone has or is taking drugs, dopamine is released and this part of the brain lights up like fireworks.  And when the drug wears off the person is craving that euphoria feeling again and so the vicious cycle begins.  So over time, the person finds it tough to stop the substance abuse on their own. The drugs that help to stimulate the release of dopamine to create a feeling of euphoria the first time the person will need more of the drug the to experience that high again.  Here is a study that was done by Christian Lüscher, a professor in neurology at the University of Geneva, Switzerland he showed how dopamine and addiction can change the brain: Mice experiments explain how addiction changes our brains.

The same brain scans show physical damage to the area of the brain (frontal cortex) that is critical for judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavior control.

But, Why Does It Matter How We View Addiction?

For those of you who have in no way needed to deal with an addict’s behavior, this may all be beside the point. However, for those of you who can also have an addict inside the own family or a friend who is an addict, it is vital so that it will take into account that dependency is a disease and not a preference. The manner you view the circumstance will have a first-rate effect on how you interact with the addict – whether you shun them or try and be of help.

Once you believe that addiction is a sickness, you may research that:

First, It Has Little To Do With Self Control

“They made their bed and should lie in it.” That’s the response many generally have of someone’s demise from an overdose or any other drug-related condition. They agree with addicts are capable of making conscious alternatives and therefore deserve what happens to them. This notion is not only wrong, but it does nothing to help the person.

While it’s debatable that they have got a choice, many addicts find it difficult to make the proper choices despite the fact that it is for his or her very own life. Remember, the vast majority are not addicts by choice, rather they sense they can’t live without the substance. And in the majority of the cases, their bodies are physically reliant on the substance that they begin to develop critical withdrawal symptoms if they don’t use it.

Second, Treatment Is Important For Recovery

Due to their dependency on the substance, it is nearly impossible for some addicts to recover on their own. As cited before addiction has little to do with willpower. Even so, going cold turkey or utilizing detox kits have been verified to be each useless and dangerous. This is why rehabilitation centers are critical to substance abuse recovery.

Drug rehabilitation centers are geared up to provide professional care, from administering medicinal drugs to supplying counseling. They help addicts detox and provide one-on-one therapy so they can regain their lives and live a life of recovery.

Third, It’s Okay If They Fail At Their First Attempt

Since addiction is a disease, you should not always think of relapse as a failure. Recovering addicts can relapse for a number of reasons. When this takes place, identify the reason(s) and revisit the time spent in treatment and what coping skills that may help that triggered the relapse or look at other options for help in substance abuse.

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