“The Brain Science Behind Drug Addiction Addiction is classified as a chronic, recurring brain disease that produces a desire to find and use drugs, regardless of the harmful side effects. Addiction is considered a brain disease because drugs change how the brain works and even its structure. Changes to the brain caused by drugs can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behavior associated with people who abuse both legal and illegal drugs.
Addiction does not hit everyone, nor does it affect people in the same way as others. There are several risk factors that play into someone becoming easily addicted to things. The more of these risks a person has in their life, the more likely they are to become addicted to something. The main factor to consider when someone has become an addict is their genetic make up.
Some people have the unfortunate genes that run in their family, that make their bodies and minds more susceptible to becoming an addict. Studies have shown that nearly half the cases of addiction are due to their genes. The baby who was born to a woman addicted to crack is just one example. In some studies a persons ethnicity and sex play a role in how they handle possible addiction. Just as good to consider, when it comes to addiction, is a persons developmental stage. If they are still a teenager, people tend to be more easily influenced by things. In turn, making them more liable to try something they really should not be trying. That is why teenagers and the mentally disabled are the highest risk for becoming addicts. How does this associate with the brain? As adolescents, the brain is still maturing. The pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that allows us to make good decisions and keep our emotions in check, is still developing. Drugs and other things that are the cause of addiction impair the growth of this part of the brain, making the person easier to fall into an addictive state.
Drugs are chemicals that affect the way the brain communicates with the body as a whole. Often times they help to produce an abundance of Dopamine in the “reward circuits” of the brain. Overproduction of dopamine is what produces the high feeling. And once a person who is at risk of addiction gets a small sample of it, their body and brain demands even more. The brain has now associated those drugs in a persons system as something that gives off the reward, something the body response positively to according to the brain.
Addiction can be overcome, thankfully. The brain can be retrained not to depend on the dopamine as often. It is a long and hard process that not many can successfully finish. Relapses almost always happen to addicts at some point. Often times when a person relapses it means an adjustment to the treatment must be made. With a dedicated doctor helping, and supportive family addiction can be conquered.
About the author: Mark Kastleman is with Candeo Behavior Change and he enjoys helping others overcome any addiction problems they may be facing. He also enjoys travelling with his friends and family.”