The world’s leading addiction researchers & scientists now say that addiction is a brain disease which results in changes to brain structure and brain function.
Frequent drug use over time causes these changes that unfortunately can persist after the addict has discontinued the use of drugs.
Once a drug has been used for a period of time it seems to alter the brain from “normal” to “addict”. The period of time during which drug use effects these changes differs from person to person.
Often, people addicted to alcohol or other drugs are seen as weak characters, intellectually deficient or just plain immoral. Stigma and stereotypes around addiction still abound.
Addicts cannot control their craving for the substance which they are addicted to despite the negative results like ill health and social or legal consequences.
The addiction worsens and becomes increasingly difficult to treat and the individual’s health deteriorates.
The Definition of Drug Addiction
One of the definitions of drug addiction is an uncontrollable and compulsive desire for drugs, including the search for and use of drugs despite all the negative health and social consequences.
Once addicted, the vast majority of users cannot return to occasional use. Absolute abstinence seems to be the only way to recovery.
Dr Kathleen Brady, an expert on addiction, says that addiction does not develop overnight.
“Generally there’s a series of steps that individuals go through from experimentation and occasional use to the actual loss of control of use. And it really is that process that defines addiction,” she says.
Understanding Addiction shows how addiction is a treatable brain disorder and needs to be viewed in the light of this. The public’s perceptions need to be re-educated not to regard addicts with little compassion as losers in society, but rather to support them in their journey to recovery as people who need treatment, much like any other illness.
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