Drug addiction definition
Also referred to as substance abuse or misuse, drug addiction is often defined as dependence on a legal or illegal drug or medication. It is considered by many to be a brain disease, as one of the effects of drug addiction is directly affecting the function of the brain. The changes in the brain’s neuro pathways can lead to intense cravings for one or more substances, despite the serious, long-term physical and mental consequences.
Why take drugs?
There are many reasons involved with a person’s decision to try before resulting to drug addiction itself. Causes of drug addiction can be many. Pleasure seeking is usually at the top of the list of reasons people start using drugs. With some drugs, such as cocaine and other stimulants, a sense of euphoria pervades, along with feelings of power, control, and self-confidence. With heroin and other opiate drugs, a slowing down is experienced, along with a deep sense of relaxation, peace, and contentment.
Another reason people take drugs is to feel better, physically or mentally. The anxiety and discomfort associated with mental conditions and social disorders often lead the suffer to seek relief from drugs.
Some people have an intense drive to perform at a high level – either in the sense of mental processing or physical performance. What may start as a little extra boost often leads to drug addiction and abuse, particularly in the form of stimulants and steroids.
Peer pressure plays a role in a person’s decision to try drugs, particularly with young people. Adolescents, whose brains are still in forming, are particularly at risk.
Voluntary or involuntary?
In most cases of drug addiction, taking the first drug is a decision that is made voluntarily. However, with ongoing use and the onset of abuse and addiction, the person loses the ability to control his decision-making ability. Self-control, willpower and self-knowledge are of no use to the person who is addicted, despite the desire to make appropriate decisions.
Changes in the brain are evidence of the severity of the condition. The neuropath ways responsible for judgment, critical decision-making, education and memory are gravely affected.
Who is affected?
There is no easy answer to this question. There are several risk factors to consider, including biology, social environment and age. The more risk factors that are prevalent, the higher the likelihood of dependence or addiction to drugs.
Heredity, coupled with environmental circumstances, factor into drug addiction vulnerability in many cases; gender, race and mental issues are also factors to consider.
A person’s social environment can play a big part in their likelihood to turn to drug addiction, including social position, income, education, occupation, parental involvement, peer pressure and more.
Finally, the physical and mental development of an individual plays an important role in addiction vulnerability. While taking substances at any age can lead to abuse and drug addiction, use in adolescents can easily lead to addiction as the brain is still forming and developing. As the vital areas of decision-making, judgment and self-control are being developed in young people, their tendency to take risks without fully comprehending the consequences often leads to drug abuse.