It is extremely devastating when a friend or family member becomes addicted to drugs, alcohol, or both. Feelings of disbelief, anger, and disappointment may occur. You might feel disbelief or anger and blame your loved one. It may shock you to learn that your son and daughter have taken up drug use despite their excellent upbringing. You may be asking yourself, “Where have I gone wrong?” and “Why did my child choose this path? And why do they keep using drugs?” sandiegodetox.com is here to help you out.
Too often we refer to drug dependency as a choice. We assume that addicts make choices about the life they lead while deciding to continue using drugs regardless of the consequences. We blame and shame them, viewing their drug use as wrongdoing instead of a serious problem that needs medical treatment.
There are articles on both sides of this debate if you search the internet. But science has provided a solid answer. Substance addiction, also known clinically as a substance abuse disorder, is not something that can be avoided. Substance addiction is a disorder. It’s time to recognize that.
Breaking The Myth – Addiction Is A Choice
It is implied that drug addiction is a choice. Addicts can stop using drugs and alcohol whenever they wish. It doesn’t work like that. Addiction is more than a superficial issue. It causes permanent brain damage and makes people feel physically sick. It is not always possible for addicts to give up drugs.
Yes, drug use can be initiated at will. Initiating drug use is an entirely voluntary choice. Perhaps your parents made similar choices once in their lives. Substance abuse is often seen as a stage or rite for teens, who have not yet developed their brains and aren’t aware of the possible consequences. Some college students and teens will continue to drink alcohol or use drugs for entertainment, to ease stress, and to keep their minds off the possibility of becoming addicted. Young people are most at-risk.
Drugs can affect everyone differently. Some people may not become addicted to their drug choice. Some will abuse drugs for a short time and eventually become dependent. Some people use drugs regularly for long periods and eventually become addicted. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there’s no way to predict when someone will become addicted.
While not everyone develops a substance addiction, it is still a real risk in drug-using individuals–particularly those at a young age or who are battling any struggles with mental health. However, addiction does not discriminate. Addiction can occur to anyone, regardless of age or background. A chronic illness or disorder is when addiction develops.
Understanding The Facts: Addiction Is A Disease
Evidence suggests that drugs and alcohol can alter how the mind works. A person who uses drugs can access the brain’s information system, alter its nerve cells and trigger certain chemicals (such as dopamine), which then stimulate the brain’s reward loop. These changes last for many years. The reward or pleasure from drug use makes the brain want to do the same thing again. It remembers that drugs have euphoric-like effects and send signals for the user to locate and use them again. These changes in the brain lead to a desire to use drugs to feel better and more positive. Soon the brain requires the drugs to function.
A person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol will struggle to quit. For a few reasons, it is difficult to stop using drugs overnight. First, withdrawal symptoms are a result of stopping drug abuse. A person who is addicted to drugs will cease using them for a time. Their brain and bodies no longer require the drug to function. Side effects from withdrawal can include nausea, fatigue, or vomiting, as well as flu-like symptoms. To ease withdrawal symptoms many people return to taking drugs. This is not a choice. The body is demanding more drugs to function properly.
Because substance addiction can cause lasting changes in the brain’s function, it is classified as a disease.
NIDA often uses the analogy of substance addiction with other chronic and relapsing diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. All disorders require active and ongoing management. While they can be treated, addictions are also a chronic condition that is susceptible to relapse. Addiction is comparable to other chronic conditions in that it has similar relapse rates.