Drug Addiction and the Brain: Unlocking the Secrets of Addiction

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    In this world, I think it is safe to say we are all addicted to something one way or another. While some addictions are a bit more harmful than others, they are not all as intense and completely life ruining as some people like to think, you can be addicted to anything.

    Have you ever noticed the way you feel when you eat your favorite food or when you finally see a movie you have been dying to watch? This is a feeling we all experience. You feel happy and excited, right? Well, these feelings are happening because your brain is recognizing what you are doing as pleasurable. Your brain releases a ‘pleasure chemical’ to make you feel like you are being rewarded.

    When that ‘pleasure chemical’ is released it is essentially being released in the form of a chemical our brains know as Dopamine. Dopamine is what tells your brain that you need more of this ‘good stuff’ regardless of what that good stuff is. While most drugs do release dopamine they do so on a different level than other kinds of addictions, see they are similar but not the exact same.

    Drugs alter the way our brains work. They cause a very unnatural surge of dopamine and leave people coming back for that high they will never fully achieve again. Once the brain experiences a surge like this lots of changes in the brain occur. For instance, the amygdala creates a conditioned response to the stimuli in itself. Shopping addiction isn’t going to do this on the same level regardless of what anyone tries to tell you; however, different people react to different drugs in different ways.

    This surge is so intense that the brain doesn’t quite know how to handle it if that makes sense. Drugs overwhelm our receptors and leave us producing less and less of what we are trying to force the production of in the first place. This is why people end up taking more drugs, the feeling they are trying to achieve is fleeting. The more someone uses the more dependent their brain becomes on that drug. This is why recovering from drug addiction is so hard. While my explanation is a bit of a watered down version it covers the basics.

    Sure, many go back and forth over whether or not drug addiction is a mental illness or ‘disease’, but regardless it is quite apparent that getting off drugs is not as easy as some would like to make it out to be. There is more to it than just stopping, things like withdrawal can be devastating and when it comes to things like this help is necessary.

    While people choose to do drugs and ignore the potential consequences of addiction, it is crucial that we educate as many people as we can about the things happening within so that they don’t make the choices some have.



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