Addiction is a chronic brain disease that entails constant seeking and use of drugs, irrespective of the resulting effects. Drugs alter the functions and structure of the brain. Some of the effects on the brain may have long-lasting consequences on an individual leading to risky behaviors.
Addiction and other ailments like heart diseases have similar characteristics. Both conditions affect the standard functions of the body organs. Also, one can prevent and treat both disorders. However, if the diseases are not addressed, they may have a lasting effect on an individual.
What Causes People to Take Drugs?
People take drugs owing to an array of motives:
- To have a good feeling – Most of the abused drugs provide individuals with a sense of pleasure. The effects of euphoria depend on the type of drug consumed.
- To feel better – Individuals suffering from social anxiety, depression, and stress tend to abuse drugs to lessen their distress feelings. Stress is highlighted as a significant cause for one to begin and continue abusing drugs.
- To enhance their abilities – Some people feel the need to augment their cognitive skills. This way, they engage in the initial experimentation, and soon after, it becomes a habit. Some people may use prescribed stimulants or anabolic steroids.
- Influences from others in addition to curiosity – Adolescents are susceptible to peer- pressure. Compared to adults, teens are likely to be involved in daring behaviors to astound their peers and convey their abilities to deviate from social and parental controls.
During the first consumption of any drug, individuals are likely to believe that they have control over the same. Increased use of the drugs results in a habit and slowly, becomes a necessity to make one feel normal. At this point, an individual will continue taking drugs irrespective of the effects on self and family. With the passage of time, some people may start frequently consuming more dosages. It is imperative to note that moderate consumption of drugs is equally harmful and risky.
The decision to consume drugs is considered voluntary. Continued use of drugs may soon get out of control causing severe impairments. Imaging studies about the brain of individuals addicted to drugs reveal physical alteration to the areas responsible for decision-making, judgment, control of behavior, memory, and learning. Scientists believe that these changes may elucidate on the destructive and neurotic behavior of addiction.
Reasons That Some People Get Addicted to Drugs, and Others Don’t
No single factor underscores whether an individual will be addicted to drugs. Increased risk factors result in the likelihood of abuse and addiction. Addiction is reduced by the presence of protective factors. These factors may be environmental or biological. Some of the risk factors are lack of parental supervision, experimenting with drugs, inadequate social skills, poverty and availability of drugs. Protective factors encompass positive relationships, success in academics, parental monitoring, and strict anti-drug policies.
The home environment during childhood may determine one’s susceptibility to consumption of drugs. Also, members of the family who abuse drugs or are involved in criminal activities may result in children having a drug problem in the future. During adolescence, acquaintances and friends may have a strong influence on each other. It is possible for drug-using peers to sway their friends to try drugs. Also, failure in academics and poor social abilities may cause a child to start consuming drugs.
Scientists approximate that 40% to 60% of individuals susceptibility to addiction is caused by genetic factors. Other biological factors are a history of medical conditions and individuals stage of development. People diagnosed with mental disorders and adolescents have a higher risk of addiction relative to the general population.
Other Factors that Enhance the Risk of Addiction
The earlier an individual starts to consume drugs, the higher is the likelihood of developing serious problems. The drugs may begin damaging the developing brain. Broken families, physical abuses, genetics and mental illnesses may trigger the use of drugs at an early age.
The addictive potential is catalyzed by smoking and injecting drugs into the veins. This way, the effects of the drugs get into the brain quickly. Scientists believe that people continue to take drugs repeatedly to enjoy the pleasurable state for a more extended period.
Brain Development During Adolescence and Into Adulthood
The prefrontal cortex is a crucial part of the brain that allows individuals to control desires and emotions, assess situations, and make informed decisions. This region continues to mature during adolescence. Adolescents may make poor choices, as the prefrontal cortex is not fully mature. Introduction of drugs before the cortex is fully mature may result in brain changes. These changes may have profound consequences on an individual.