June 6, 2017

What Caregivers Should Know About How Addictions Originate

If you are like most caregivers, at some point during your loved one’s bout with drug addiction, you have asked yourself how your loved became addicted to drugs in the first place. This is especially true if your loved one had a good upbringing with no obvious triggers for addiction. The truth is; however, that anyone can become addicted to drugs, even those who were parented well and loved unconditionally. The following is some information that will walk you through the biological reasons behind your loved one becoming an addict. Hopefully, this information will help you see that you didn’t drive your loved one to their present condition; instead it was their own choices and biological changes that lead them there.

What Happens During First Time and Long-Term Drug Use?
The first time your loved one tried drugs they likely experienced an unnaturally intense feeling of pleasure. This is due to the fact that, through drug use, the reward system in their brain was activated and flooded with dopamine. Eventually, after enough drug use, the brain will actually begin to change as a result of the unnatural flood of neurotransmitters. The brain’s natural neurons will then begin to make less dopamine, or produce less dopamine receptors, which is all a result of the drug use altering the natural balance of the brain. Consequently, there is less dopamine being naturally produced, a term scientists refer to as “down regulation.”

What Happens After the Brain is Altered?

As you might imagine, once the changes occur in the brain, your loved one begins to feel lifeless, flat and depressed as a result of too few dopamines being produced. Now, they need drugs simply to feel “normal” again. Eventually, their drug tolerance and brain alterations grow to such a state that they are then forced to take more and more quantity of drugs simply to create enough dopamine to function. The term for this effect is most commonly referred to as building tolerance to a drug. As a result of this ever growing dependency on drugs, your loved one will begin doing whatever it takes to get enough drugs to feed their habit, even going so far as stealing from those they love.

How Many Times Does it Take for Drug Addiction to Occur?

As mentioned above, the brain changes, cause what we would refer to as addiction. The exact amount of times your loved one would need to experiment with drugs in order to make those changes occur, or become addicted, is different for everyone. Factors such as their genetic makeup and their environment all play a role in how the addiction process works in each individual.

Other Factors That Make it Hard to Eliminate Drugs:

In addition to the changes in the brain, your loved one will also experience mild to severe withdrawal symptoms anytime they attempt to come off drugs, such as stomach pains, nausea and the like. This is yet another reason addiction grows, since the body reacts so severely when they stop drugs, your loved one feels they must keep taking them.

Why This Information Matters:

You now know that addiction is a biological, scientific problem. Yes, it all started due to your loved one experimenting with drugs. However, now that they are hooked, kicking the habit often takes much more than simple will power. Thankfully, drug rehabilitation programs understand this and seek to reduce withdrawal symptoms and reverse the brain alternations, helping those who want freedom from drugs to get away from them once and for all

(1)None listed, How Does Someone Become Addicted to Drugs?,NIDA for Teens, Last Updated May 07,2015,http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts-detail/how-does-someone-become-addicted-to-drugs

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