The inability to control is the bottom line when it comes to addiction. A person’s brain and behavior are greatly affected. When you become addicted, you continue to use the drug or carry on the habit despite the consequences. A person can become powerless to legal or illegal drugs and substances such as alcohol, nicotine, opioids, and/or marijuana. The brain starts to receive altered messages and all it can think about is the rewarding feeling the drug produces. The functioning of the neurotransmitters becomes distorted. The viscous cycle of tolerance starts to happen, and the person becomes persistent on experiencing the same high or an even better high better each time.
Addiction doesn’t just happen instantly. It builds its way into someone’s life. Cigarette smoking can start just at parties or social events, but then the person finds themselves keeping a pack in hand and reaching for a smoke more and more frequently. The risk of addiction varies by drug and certainly affects how quickly one forms the habit. Sometimes a person is prescribed a medication, and they become hooked after use (especially opioids). Painkillers cause a high risk for addiction.
Addiction is the accumulation of more and more of the user’s choice. The person needs higher doses to get high. Hence, drug addiction is also called substance abuse disorder. When a person tries to stop, they crave more and feel withdrawl symptoms. Some of the symptoms that person has become addicted to their drug of choice include the following:
- Having intense urges to use/take the drug.
- Drug use starts to prevail over responsibilities like work.
- Daily use of the drug, sometimes even several times per day.
- Continuing to use the drug despite any physical and health consequences.
- Doing whatever it takes to obtain the drug, which are behaviors you normally wouldn’t do.
- Spending lots of time going to get the drug in addition to time spent taking it.
- Spending excess money on the drug rather or not you can afford it.
- Doing things you shouldn’t under the influence of the drug, such as driving.
- Making sure you always have available supply of the drug.
- Feeling withdrawl when you don’t take the drug.
The main factors that cause addiction are your environment and genetics. Being exposed to the drug creates risk to partake. Traumatic life events can also cause a person to turn to drugs to deal with the situation. Feeling overwhelmed by stress can also cause drug use to help this feeling subside. Many addicts follow in the footsteps of their relatives. The reason people become addicted to drugs is an individualized experience.
Many addicts enjoy drugs and don’t want to stop, while others want and know they need help. The willpower to stop becomes a problem. Addiction is much more complicated than just deciding to stop and then you instantly doing it. The brain has to be re-wired to believe it can and will function without and the body has to feel committed to this process as well. There is help and hope and those in recovery help others. Addiction is a serious problem with serious consequences so most of the time testing the waters is never advisable because you may not be able to turn back.