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Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction

Posted on :  April 17th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

“Recovery from addiction, like many other things, starts with one thing: knowledge.”

This includes understanding what led you to addiction, why you went as far as you did with it, and from these answers, how to turn it around.

Getting informed is one of the most important steps in any addict’s recovery process, so here are some of the basics.

What is drug addiction?

At its core, drug addiction is a disease much like any other, in the sense that it can alter the functioning of its primary organ (in this case, the brain) leading to compulsive behaviors and irrational action based on beliefs.

In the case of drug addiction, the fundamental structure of the brain is altered, leading sufferers to seek out and use a substance regardless of its negative physical, emotional or circumstantial effects.

It can also lead to harmful attitudes and behavior.

Why do most people abuse drugs?

There are numerous reasons people begin taking drugs, and you’ve probably reflected on your own a million times, but if any of these sound familiar, it’s probably because they are the most commonly-cited triggers of drug addiction.

  • Pleasure-seeking: Many addictive drugs produce feelings of euphoria or pleasure and can go onto make the user feel relaxed, or content. These feelings are usually what most drug addicts are chasing, rather than the drugs, specifically, themselves.
  • To reduce stress: Similarly, numerous addicts reach for drugs in an attempt to alleviate other, negative feelings in their life. This can include people who suffer with depression or anxiety, and also those who are at a particularly high risk of stress.
  • Self-improvement: This may seem like a strange reason to begin experimenting with drugs, but many addicts feel that drugs enhance the way they naturally are, and pressure to be this way can lead many to continue in their addiction.
  • For the sake of experience: Many people can come at addiction from an experimental angle, having been curious, or influenced to try something by others.

How does addiction develop?

Many people reach addiction because they only observe initial positive outcomes of drug abuse. At this stage, drug use is voluntary, and does not interfere with brain functions, impulses and the rest of a potential addict’s life.

Once addiction has taken hold of a person, however, brain imaging data suggests that areas of the brain governing judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control are altered, resulting in impaired day-to-day functioning and compulsive behaviors.

If you’re interested in learning more about yourself, and your own addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Towards Recovery Clinics Inc. (TRC) is an Ontario addiction treatment centre with the philosophy to help individuals take control of their addiction and help them rebuild their lives and careers.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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