Drug Abuse & Addiction: Effects on Brain, Risk Factors, Signs

Drug Abuse & Addiction: Effects on Brain, Risk Factors, Signs

November 28, 2022 By 0 Comments

Your brain and behaviour are both impacted by the condition of addiction. Substance addiction makes it unable to resist the impulse to use the drug, regardless of how harmful it may be. The sooner you receive treatment for drug addiction, the better your chances are of avoiding some of the disease’s more serious side effects.

Not just heroin, cocaine, or other illegal narcotics are involved in drug addiction. Alcohol, nicotine, sleep aids, anti-anxiety drugs, and other legal substances can all cause addiction.

The narcotic painkillers known as opioids, whether taken legitimately or illegally, can also cause addiction. In the US, this issue is at epidemic proportions. Opioids were involved in two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths in 2018.

You could initially decide to use a medication because you enjoy how it makes you feel. You could believe that you have control over how much and how frequently you use it. However, medicines over time alter how your brain functions. These bodily alterations may persist for a long period. They cause you to lose control and may prompt harmful actions.

Tolerance vs abuse and addiction

Drug abuse is the use of drugs, whether they are legal or not, improperly. You might exceed the recommended dosage or utilise a prescription written for someone else. You might misuse drugs to feel better, reduce stress, or escape from reality. However, you may generally stop using altogether or adjust your bad habits.

Addiction is the inability to stop. Not if it endangers your health. Not if it results in issues for you or your loved ones in terms of finances, emotions, or other factors. Even if you wish to stop, the desire to obtain and use drugs can grow stronger every minute of the day.

Additionally, tolerance or physical reliance are not the same as addiction. When you abruptly cease using a substance in cases of physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms take place. When a dose of a substance loses its effectiveness over time, tolerance occurs.

For instance, if you use opioids for pain for a long time, you might become physically dependent and/or acquire tolerance. This does not indicate addiction. In general, only a small fraction of persons develop addiction when using drugs under competent medical supervision.

Changes to Your Brain

Your brain is geared to make you desire to repeat positive events. You’re inspired to perform them repeatedly as a result.

The reward system in your brain is the target of potentially addictive medications. They saturate your brain with the drug dopamine. This causes a strong sense of pleasure. To maintain that high, you keep using the substance.

Your brain adjusts to the additional dopamine over time. In order to have the same high, you might need to consume more of the substance. And other activities you previously enjoyed, such as eating and spending time with family, can now be less enjoyable.

Drug use over an extended period of time can alter other brain chemical pathways and systems as well. They could harm you if:

  • Decision-making
  • Memory
  • Learning skills
  • Judgement

These mental changes taken together may cause you to seek out and use drugs in ways that are out of your control.

Who Has the Highest Chance of Addiction?

The body and brain are unique to each individual. Drugs also affect people differently. Some people enjoy the sensation when they first experience it and want more. Others detest it and give up.

Drug usage does not always lead to addiction. However, it can occur to anyone, regardless of age. Your risk of addiction may be increased by a number of factors, such as:

  • Family background.

About half of your odds are determined by your DNA. You are more likely to struggle with alcohol or drugs if your parents or siblings do. Addiction is equally likely to affect both men and women.

  • Early Drug Use.

The brains of children are still developing, and drug usage can alter this. Therefore, using drugs when you’re young may increase your risk of developing an addiction later in life.

  • Mental illnesses.

You have a greater likelihood of developing an addiction if you’re sad, have difficulties focusing, or worry all the time. To try to feel better, you might turn to medicines. You are also more prone to struggle with addiction if you have a history of trauma in your life.

  • Difficult partnerships.

Your likelihood of developing an addiction may increase if you experienced family issues as a child and don’t get along with your parents or siblings.

Addiction Warning Signs

You might exhibit one or more of these red flags:

  • An urge to use the drug every day, or many times a day
  • Taking more medications than you intended to and over a longer period of time than you anticipated
  • Keeping the medicine on hand at all times and purchasing it even if you cannot afford it
  • Spending more time alone, even if it means abusing drugs and having problems at work or acting out toward family and friends.
  • Not caring about your appearance or taking care of oneself
  • Stealing, lying, or engaging in risky behaviour, such as driving while intoxicated or having inappropriate sex
  • Spending the majority of your time obtaining, utilising, or recovering from drug effects
  • Feeling ill when you attempt to give up

How to Avoid Getting Dependent on Prescribed Painkillers

Even if they take the medication for a very long time, most people who take their pain medication as prescribed by their doctor do not develop an addiction. You should not be discouraged from utilising drugs to treat your pain due to concerns about addiction.

However, you might be at a higher risk if you’ve ever used drugs or alcohol excessively or if you have family members who have.

To prevent being addicted to painkillers:

  • Take the medication exactly as directed by your doctor.
  • Informing them of any personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction will enable doctors to prescribe the drugs that will be most effective for you.

Keep in mind that it’s typical for people to build up a tolerance to painkillers and require bigger doses to have the same amount of pain relief. This is typical and doesn’t indicate addiction. Higher doses may be required if you have an addiction, but not for pain treatment. Talk to your doctor, nevertheless, if this effect continues to bother you.

Don’t hesitate; seek assistance right away.

Speak to your doctor if your drug use is out of control or causing issues.

It may take some time to recover from drug addiction. There is no cure, but treatment can assist you in quitting and maintaining your drug-free status. Your treatment plan may combine counselling and medication. To determine the best course of action for you, you could consult us.

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