Understanding how an individual becomes addicted to drugs is difficult for most people to comprehend. They mistakenly think someone susceptible to addiction lacks the willpower or a moral compass to make better decisions. Intellectual ignorance prevents them from accepting the realness of drug effects to the human body, mind, and soul.
Some may even believe that a person could simply choose to stop using. In reality, addiction is a complex disease. Quitting takes more than a strong will or good intentions. Abusing drugs causes chemical changes to the brain in ways that make it harder to quit, even for those trying desperately to do so.
Fortunately, researchers in the drug rehabilitation community now know more about how drugs affect the brain. Innovative, transforming treatments can help individuals recover and lead productive lives.
What is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is a chronic disease with specific characteristics. Individuals become compulsive in seeking and using drugs. Even when facing harmful consequences, they find it difficult to control the urge to use a controlled substance. While most people initially volunteer to take drugs, repeated use can lead to changes in the brain.
These changes challenge an individual’s self-control to the point of interfering with the ability to resist. The individual has uncontrollable intense urges to use drugs. Additionally, persistent brain changes make drug addiction a relapsing disease. Without supportive and proven treatment, an individual could return to using years after not taking drugs.
Drug relapse is common, but it doesn’t diminish the efficacy of treatment. As with other health conditions, addiction treatment should be ongoing based on how an individual responds. Plans are flexible enough for adjusting to fit the changing needs of the individual.
Drug Effects on the Brain
Drug addictions affect the reward circuit of the brain. It gets flooded with dopamine, a compound present in the body known as the chemical messenger. This system controls the ability to feel pleasure. The need to thrive causes repetitive behaviors such as eating. Overstimulation of this area of the brain causes an intensely pleasurable “high” that drives the need to use drugs repeatedly.
The brain adjusts to the excessive dopamine caused by taking drugs. It either produces less, reduces the ability of cells to respond, or both. The high an individual feels decreases compared to how they felt the first time taking drugs.
This effect is known as tolerance, which can lead to taking more of their drug of choice to achieve the same high. The individual gets less pleasure from other things like social activities or food. Continued use over a long period of time causes more changes in other chemical brain systems. The effects on these functions can include:
Despite an awareness of harmful outcomes, most individuals continue to take drugs. This is the nature of addiction.
Drug Effects on Physical Health
Drug abuse and dependence drastically impact an individual’s physical health. In fact, drug effects can be far-reaching and touch almost every body organ. Drug use can weaken an individual’s immune system, which increases their susceptibility to infections.
Some may also develop cardiovascular conditions. These can range from an abnormal heart rate to heart attacks. Drugs injected into the body could infect heart valves and blood vessels. They also make the liver work harder, which can lead to damage or failure.
Other health conditions include stroke, seizures, and widespread brain damage. This disrupts all aspects of an individual’s daily life with mental confusion and memory loss.
Treating Drug Addiction
The effects of drug addiction make this a potentially deadly disease. If you or a loved one is enduring the negative effects of this dangerous condition, take heart. Proven addiction therapy options are available at a 22-acre community of supportive care.
As an accredited rehab facility in California, Serenity Lodge offers drug addiction treatment programs for men that promote recovery and relapse prevention. Guided by our core principles of discipline, integrity, and passion, Clients enter a peaceful and substance-free environment.
Drug addiction or abuse no longer has to have control over your life. Call us today at (855) 932-4045 to begin your journey to recovery.