alcohol addiction

The Mechanics Of Addiction

Articles, International, Understanding Addiction, United States

Claims that a person can become addicted after just one try of certain drugs are questionable, but there is no doubt that the first foray into dabbling with drugs opens a door that can very well lead to substance dependence.

Desensitizing parts of the brain:

Although different drugs work in a variety of ways those with addictive qualities all have the same mission.

That is to release certain neurotransmitters. The chief suspect being dopamine which is one of the hormones that affect the brain’s reward centre and amongst other things is responsible for a person’s feel good factor.

Differing routes – Similar results:

How 2 highly addictive drugs work differently but produce the same end result:

Heroin:

Many feel that heroin is up there with the most addictive drugs on the planet. This opiate works by binding opiate receptors and blocking the release of vital neurotransmitters which normally counterbalance the release of dopamine.

While these neurotransmitters are put on hold the brain is flooded with dopamine, hence the extremely good feelings heroin gives and the very strong feelings that more is not just a nice to have, but is very much needed.

Amphetamines:

Amphetamines have a similar structure to dopamine. This gives them a head start in terms of offering pleasant feelings. When taken they enter brain neurons by diffusing directly through its neural membranes.

Once reaching their destination amphetamines release dopamine, but just as importantly also prevent it from being withdrawn.

Repeated drug use halts natural production:

The problem a drug user has is that taking an addictive substance gives them thoughts and feelings that urge them to ‘go again’. These feelings encourage a user to have more. The more you have, the more you want, and this is a relentless cycle.

It is enhanced by the fact that the brains reward centre becomes desensitized by the ‘unnatural’ dopamine the drug is producing. The body naturally produces dopamine, but this false creation of dopamine means that natural production is stopped.

An unnatural replacement is required:

When this process occurs a person finds that if they stop using the drug then dopamine levels drop to unacceptable levels. This leaves them with feelings of unease and unwanted withdrawal symptoms.

The obvious and easy way to resolve these problems is to take more of the drug to ‘put themselves right’. If this cycle is allowed to continue then before many realise it they cannot do without their drug of choice.

Do not let this cycle overtake you:

No one sets out experimenting with drugs with the intention of becoming addicted. They feel they are stronger than any substance and will be able to control use.

Unfortunately, addiction and the heavy withdrawal symptoms a person feels when going without their drug of choice are very often stronger. They will continually urge the person to have just that little bit more.

If you find you are now in that situation then it is vital to seek professional help much sooner than later.

Stopping this problem is not easy, but the longer a person ignores the need for help the deeper the problems will become. The final result being an addiction that is very difficult to overcome.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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