One of the biggest misconceptions regarding drug abuse is that people become addicts due to a lack of will power, strength or morals.
Many are ignorant enough to believe that the quitting process for a user is simple, and chastise them for not doing so. Drug addiction is an illness which requires medical assistance and professional treatment.
The complex reaction by the brain to the drug is what makes addiction so easy to fall into and so difficult to recover from. Most drugs overwhelm the brain with the concept of a ‘reward pathway’ – brought on by a potent release of Dopamine.
This chemical is responsible for controlling the body’s ability to feel pleasure; urging a person to repeat the behaviour needed to bring about this emotion.
The more the drug is consumed, the less the brain produces excess Dopamine; this process is known as developing a ‘tolerance’ – causing users to ingest more of the drug in the attempt to reconstruct the initial high.
External factors are key to understanding addiction; many fall into these addictive patterns because they are psychologically vulnerable. Others use drugs as a distraction or for social means.
Whatever the reason, drug abuse is widespread and should be regarded as an illness. It is only within this context that society can understand and seek to help those that are suffering.
No one can predict who will become addicted. There are several factors which might offer some insight into who may be at a greater risk. Some of those include:
As with most things, behaviour is a largely function of environment and genetics. Those that are susceptible to addiction due to genetics factors may require shorter exposure to lead to addiction problems.
There is no absolute cure for addiction; much like heart diseases and diabetes, drug addiction is treatable and can be managed. The key to recovery is to reach out for professional help. Combining a strong support network and the right course of treatment makes recovery possible.
It is also about being in the right place to want help. It is incredibly difficult to stop someone using drugs, alcohol, or acting out any other addiction if they don’t want to stop; some would say impossible. Many believe that they cannot beat their addiction, and so will never try unless supported and encouraged by those that are close to them.
Drug abuse is not a choice. Few people consciously sit down and decide to become addicts. It is a trap that people fall into when they let their guard down, and the psychological dependence that ensures create a new homeostatic norm that becomes their cage.
Drug addictions have been around for thousands of years, but, thankfully, we understand the bio-psychological mechanism at play much better these days, and there is a route out of addiction if people choose to take it.