Scientists have long been studying addiction. In particular, they look into how drugs affect one’s behavior and one’s brain. The reason for this is that addiction touches on a lot of things. It affects your health, the people around you, yourself, and society in general.
The study of addiction is also used in developing programs that center on the prevention of drug abuse and on helping drug addicts with their rehabilitation.
Drug addiction is defined as a relapsing and chronic brain disease that is characterized by the compulsion to use drugs, even when the person knows that it is harmful for him or her. Note that drug addiction is considered a disease by the scientific community because prohibited drugs can often change the structure of the brain. As such, it also changes how the brain works.
These changes last a long time and may give rise to harmful behaviors. Drug addiction is just like any other disease because it disrupts the healthy and normal function of the brain.
How does one become addicted to drugs?
While most people choose to try out drugs on their own and their first experience with drug use is often voluntary, their ability to exert self-control tends to diminish the more they continue to use drugs.
With their sense of self-control impaired, they would find it difficult to stop, which means it is no longer a matter of willpower. Studies have shown that there are physical changes in the brain that happens: including those in the areas that control memory, learning, decision-making, exercising of good judgment, and controlling behavior.
What do all these mean? As you continue to use drugs, it changes your brain structure and the chemical that influence it, thus making it difficult for you to learn, remember, and exercise good judgment and control your own behavior. As such, quitting from drugs is especially hard, even if you know it does not do you any good.
This does not mean, however, that once you have tried drugs and other illegal substances, you will become instantly addicted. There are people who regularly do drugs, but are able to stop. This is because there are other factors that influence the development of addiction.
For instance, studies have shown that there are people who are at higher risks to getting addicted to drugs. What are these risks that increase your disposition to become easily addicted?
• The lack of parental guidance and supervision
• Aggressive behavior during childhood
• Poor interpersonal and social skills
• Experimenting with drugs, as well as having access to drugs
• Poverty within the community
In addition, there are factors that help lessen the risk of an individual developing drug addiction, and these are:
• Having self-control
• Constant parental support and monitoring
• Positive interpersonal and social relationships
• Being good in school
• Effective anti-drug policies at school or at work
• Having a strong sense of pride in the community or neighborhood
In short, one’s home life, family life, and peers, as well as other environmental factors, are good indicators of person’s likelihood to be addicted to drugs.
That is not all. Scientists also found that there are people who are genetically predisposed to addiction. You also have to take into consideration any medical conditions or the person’s stage of development. For example, compared to the general population, teenagers are more likely to become addicted to drugs, while people with mental disorders are also more likely to become addicted.
What other factors are there?
• People who are introduced to drug use early in life are more likely to develop addiction.
• People who inject a drug or smoke it are more likely to be addicted.
Knowing the risk factors of addiction can help people understand why they or people close to them get addicted to drugs. This will also help them identify who are more at risk, so we could help prevent them from getting addicted!