Are you dealing with a substance abuse issue? Or perhaps you’re watching a loved one’s life gets ripped apart by drugs? Over twenty million people nationwide are suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. At the drug treatment center in Los Angeles, we find that often, people don’t understand how or why people become addicted to drugs in the first place. In fact, it’s a common misconception that abusers could simply stop such behavior if they want to but a lack of personal willpower or morals keeps them on a destructive path. However, it’s important to know that drug addiction is a complex disease that requires much more than a will to change.
Understanding Drug Addiction with Drug Treatment Center Los Angeles Experts
Contrary to popular belief drug addiction is a neurological deficiency that requires intensive treatment of the mind and body. In the medical world, it’s considered a disease because illicit substances alter the internal structure of the brain and how it works. This is why individuals who are addicted to substances often can’t function normally without partaking of their drug of choice. Drugs tend to affect the “reward circuit” in the brain which is responsible for creating a euphoric effect flooding the brain with dopamine which serves as a chemical messenger to the brain. In a healthy functioning individual, the brain’s reward system is what motivates people to participate in behaviors that help them thrive which can include; eating, spending time with family and taking part in recreational activities. On the other hand, frequent surges of dopamine create a dependence that causes the repeated reinforcement of unhealthy behaviors that causes pleasure such as taking drugs.
When a person continues to abuse substances, the brain quickly adapts to decreasing the cells in the brain circuit ability to respond. This is why abusers take more and more drugs to recreate the intense high they’ve felt at the onset of they’re an addiction. The ability to enjoy other aspects of living life food, sex, and social activities drastically decreases. These changes in the brain can be long-lasting and in some cases permanent. This can lead to a wide range of issues that affects a person’s relationships with others, career goals, and overall health. Long term drug use will impact the brain chemicals which limits functions like:
- Decision making
Health Effects of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse doesn’t just affect the brain’s ability to function but it can also have a negative impact on one’s physical health. Adverse medical effects of drugs include a wide range of disabilities including cardiovascular disease, heart irregularities, damage to the kidney and liver as well as gastrointestinal problems. Yes, substance abuse can cause life-threatening ailments that can be debilitating.
Drug overdoses are always a possibility for abusers. It’s the leading cause of death in the U.S for people under the age of fifty. An overdose can be done purposely or unintentionally. Intentional overdoses is an act of suicide. Overdosing happens when an individual consumes a large amount of an illicit substance to get the desired effect oftentimes resulting in death.
Individuals Who Are More Likely to Become Addicted
Have you ever wondered why some people are more likely to become addicted to drugs than others? Although no one can directly guarantee whether a person will suffer from substance abuse issues there are a number of factors that increase one’s risk of drug addiction which includes:
A genetic vulnerability can leave one’s in the grip of drug addiction. Since our genes account for a large part of our biological makeup, if we have a history of family members who have been addicted to drugs this can increase one’s likelihood. Even gender and ethnicity can leave a person more susceptible to others to begin abusing substances. Also, people battling a mental disorder such as bipolar or depression are more likely to take part in risky behavior than others.
Environmental factors play a major role in substance abuse. Environmental factors encompass one’s family life, school and neighborhood interactions. Let’s analyze each of these factors.
Family and Home Life
Even a child’s earliest interactions with their caregivers can influence their risk for drug use. Statistics have shown that children growing up with parents or other close family members who abuse substances can have a negative impact on they’re the healthy development.
We often hear of instances in which drug use is influenced by peers especially in teen years when a child is learning to find a sense of self. Even children without biological or other risk factors can be pressured into using illicit substances. A lack of social skills which can leave a teen feeling left out or bullied can influence drug use as well.
Stage of Development
While taking drugs at any age can be particularly risky, the earlier it begins more than likely it will progress into a full-blown addiction. This is especially so for teenagers since they’re brains are still developing and they still lack adequate self-control and good decision-making skills which leaves them prone to getting involved in risky behavior.
How Is Drug Addiction Cured and Prevented
Similar to other chronic diseases like asthma or heart disease, there is no special cure for drug addiction. However, through intense treatment, an individual can manage their addiction with successful results. Addiction recovery is a constant daily battle. Even people who have been successful at managing their addiction are at risk of relapsing even years down the line. Behavioral therapy treatment and even medication can be really helpful in controlling urges and preventing drugs from ruining one’s life.
It’s important to prevent substance abuse from ever occurring. Parents should get their children involved in programs that help them develop social skills and teach them how to handle peer pressure. While cultural and environmental factors can be a strong influence, instilling in teens that drug use is harmful and something to be avoided at all costs can greatly reduce the chances of addiction. Don’t be afraid to have the conversation.