It can be difficult to understand a person’s drug or alcohol addiction if you’ve never experienced it for yourself.
Even if you understand that your loved one is suffering from a chronic disease, it’s a very complex and particular one that differs from other conditions like arthritis or diabetes. The impact of addiction on the brain is severe and can debilitate a person to the point where they become unrecognizable. As an addiction treatment center in Texas, we’re aware of how substance abuse can impact a person’s livelihood and various aspects of their lives, so we’re looking inside the mind of an addict and shedding some light on the severity of this condition.
A substance use disorder or addiction can be described as a complex disease in which a person cannot control their use of drugs or alcohol. Substances like drugs and alcohol can each produce their own side effects, and each contains addictive qualities. While people may abuse drugs like stimulants for an increased sense of joy and alertness, other drugs such as opioids may be used for their euphoric and relaxing side effects. Many, if not all, drugs produce a high by impacting the central nervous system and chemicals called neurotransmitters. These are chemicals used to send signals between the brain and body and affect functions like mood and reward. Repeatedly using drugs permanently changes the brain’s natural chemical processes, causing it to become dependent on these substances.
Addiction is considered an incurable disease. Once a person develops an addiction to drugs and alcohol, they’ll never be entirely rid of their desire to use. However, there are plenty of effective ways to treat substance use disorders that make long-term sobriety for people with even the toughest addictions. Banyan Treatment Centers Texas provides various drug and alcohol rehab programs in Waelder that include treatment for drugs, including alcohol, benzos, cocaine, heroin, meth, opioids, and more. We can help you or a loved one overcome addiction and live an addiction-free life.
Drugs of abuse – such as opioids, cocaine, heroin, and meth – stimulate the release of chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in the brain by acting on receptor proteins located on the surface of brain cells. These interactions activate the release of chemical messengers like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, all of which play a role in mood, stress regulation, energy, pleasure, and reward. Not only do drugs affect the release of dopamine by locking onto neuron receptors, but they also inhibit the brain’s ability to “reuptake” or reabsorb the excess amount of chemicals released. Reuptake is done to prevent an overload of chemicals from moving between receptors too quickly. When this process is blocked, it produces a spike in feelings of reward, pleasure, and well-being, which is what makes drugs so addictive.
Research on drug addictions and the brain have found that dopamine plays a significant part in addiction. Dopamine is known as the “pleasure chemical” because of its ability to produce euphoric side effects. The brain’s dopamine system is naturally activated when we do things we enjoy, such as eating, listening to music, reading something funny, watching a favorite movie, or having sex. Drugs like opioids, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and more, can also activate dopamine and the reward pathway in the brain. However, this stimulation is much different from the brain’s natural response to pleasurable activities. Drugs cause the brain to respond with even higher dopamine levels than it normally would, producing a feeling of reward that encourages people to continue using.
Due to the addictive nature of drugs and alcohol and their ability to change the way the brain functions, an addict will continue using drugs or alcohol despite the repercussions because they’re physically unable to control themselves. A person’s ability to think rationally and make sound decisions is slowly broken down as they continue abusing drugs. Chemical imbalance is a common side effect of addiction that disrupts basic brain functions, contributing to physical and psychological problems like mental illness, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Long-term drug abuse can also affect a person’s relationships and their ability to work. Many addicts lose their jobs and even their homes because they dedicate their finances to buying drugs or alcohol.
Despite the obvious damage addiction can cause, individuals with substance use disorders will struggle to quit because they struggle with a physical and psychological disease. An addict will go to great lengths to feed their habits, including lying to and stealing from their loved ones to buy drugs. Because of all this, it can be difficult for the loved ones of addicts to understand their actions. It’s heartbreaking to watch a loved one suffer from drug or alcohol abuse, but there are ways you can help.
If you take a look into the mind of an addict, you may find a lot of shame and guilt related to the impact of their habits on their loved ones. If you notice that someone is struggling with a drug or drinking problem, offer to get them help. Your offer can motivate them to get the treatment they need to get sober and stay sober.