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Understanding the Brain and Addiction

A lot of people think that a person should be able to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol if they want to. They see addiction as a breakdown of someone’s moral code or a lack of discipline. However, addiction is a medical condition which requires treatment just like any other condition.

Anyone who is an addict or has a loved one with an addiction problem needs to understand the cause of the condition. It will help them relate to the person and encourage them to get help.

Drugs Affect the Brain

The brain is the center of a person’s emotions. Chemicals in the brain are produced to create feelings of pleasure and happiness. These chemicals cause the person to do the same things over and over to continue to feel that pleasure. For instance, a chemical creates the feeling of pleasure when a person eats a meal they enjoy.

When the brain registers the presence of the chemical, it creates a high that makes the person feel good, happy and content. The brain seeks out the same experience to create more feelings of pleasure. Drugs can mimic the chemicals in the brain to create the high. The brain then reduces how much of the feel-good chemical it produces to compensate for the presence of the drug-high.

As the person comes down from the high, they seek out more of the drug to create that same experience again. However, it soon takes more of the drug to achieve the same level because the brain has stopped producing as much of the chemical naturally.

Not everyone will become addicted if they use a drug or take a drink. The gender and ethnicity of the person using plays a role as well as the family background. If the person has people in their family who were addicts, it increases the risk they will become one, too.

If you are addicted to a drug, don’t feel like a failure. Addiction is beyond your control, but you can get the help you need to overcome this condition. Seek out a treatment program that will help you begin your journey to recovery.

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