Drug addiction is a problem that has been plaguing our society for years now. It’s right under our noses yet most people refuse to talk about it. We only hear results aired on radios and printed on cheap tabloids. We’ve seen families torn apart, careers ruined and crimes rise on the streets as drug addiction permeated our population one victim at a time. But what exactly is drug addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a “primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” It is a result as an individual “pathologically pursues” the feeling of reward or relief that he or she experiences upon using a certain substance or drug. Addiction is characterized by:
The feeling of reward is not exactly unique to drug users. In fact, we humans have a natural sense of reward system. Like how you would reward yourself with, say, ice cream after a long day at work, or play video games to your heart’s content on weekends to relieve stress after a hectic week.
When people start taking drugs, addiction is not exactly in the plan. For a first timer, curiosity and peer pressure is a prominent factor of why people take it in the first place. Why users continue doing it is a different story. The concept of addiction is neatly explained with an animation by Film Bilder Studios in the story a little Kiwi.
The Development of a Habit
Like most things, drug use starts out as a one-time thing. The feeling that you can do all things would linger for quite some time until the mind is conditioned to try it again upon seeing an open opportunity. Unconsciously, this feeling starts to become a sense of reward for the user until actions start steering towards getting that certain reward slowly making it a habit. The user would start to reason his or her way out from their daily problems at hand like they need it to function effectively or as a sense of escape from emotional struggles. Unfortunately, the body would continuously crave for more until the usual dose and frequency would no longer suffice. This is where other social factors start to be at stake as the user’s change of behavior starts to affect how they treat family, friends, school, career, finances, and other moral and social responsibilities.
Disease and not a Weakness
However, drugs is more than just a behavioral disorder. The alterations in how specific parts of the brain work clouds a user’s sense of perception, learning, impulse control, compulsivity and judgment. This condition compromises the individual’s ability to deal with feelings and results into significant self-deception or willfully not accepting the obvious but rather commit to a truth that they believe for themselves. Because of this and the constant presence of external cues and readily available supply, users may find it hard to resist the urge at the face of temptation despite knowing the grave consequences at hand. Sometimes, ignoring societal norms and the rule of law just to fulfill the craving of the mind and body.
We know how hard it is to see a loved one descend into addiction and see their physical and emotional health deteriorate. Every day, we wouldn’t know what to expect as we muster up every inch of remaining courage and love that we have for them clinging onto the hope that deep inside there is still that person that we know.
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