What Is Drug Addiction?

Addiction is believed to be a chronic disease that is characterized by the compulsion to use a substance with difficulty in controlling one’s cravings. The desire is common despite the knowledge of its harmful side-effects. In most cases, the initial decision to use drugs is still voluntary.

  • With repeated use, drugs can result in brain alterations that can challenge the addicted person’s self-control, interfering with his ability to resist the intense urge to use drugs.
  • The changes made in the brain can be very persistent.
  • Drug addiction is seen as a “relapsing” disease.
  • People who are in the pathway to drug recovery are the most at risk for returning to the use of drugs even years after not using drugs.

The majority of drugs can largely affect and change the brain’s reward circuit by increasing the chemical messenger dopamine in it.

The system can control the body’s ability to feel pleasure. It can also motivate the person to repeat certain behaviors to thrive, which usually includes normal activities such as eating as well as spending time with family and friends. However, the overstimulation of the brain’s reward circuit can create an intensely pleasurable euphoric high that pushes the user to use drugs over and over again.

As the person continues the drug use, the brain activities change and eventually adjust to the excess of dopamine in the system. As a result, a reduction of the ability of brain cells to respond happens.

Chronic users can only feel fewer sensations of “high” compared to when they first tried it.

The effect is known as tolerance. Users may be compelled to use more of the drug just to achieve that same dopamine high causing other aspects of their lives to no longer be pleasurable. The long-term use of drugs can also alter other brain chemical systems and circuits. Drugs can affect:

  • Learning
  • Behavior
  • Decision-making
  • Judgment
  • Memory
  • Stress

The nature of the addiction is that users continue to take them despite already being aware of its harmful outcomes.

There is no single factor that can predict if an individual will become addicted or not.

There are combinations of factors that can influence the risk for addiction. The more risk factors, the greater is that person’s chance to become addicted. These factors include:


People are born with genes that account for half of their risk for addiction. Ethnicity, gender as well as the presence of mental disorders can also influence the risk for drug use as well as drug addiction.


Feelings of pressure from family and friends can also be a factor. Physical and sexual abuse also can prompt drug use. Early exposure to drugs usually in an environment where this is seen as the norm can also prompt addiction.

The first two factors interact with the critical development stages in life affecting addiction. Although using drugs at any age has a high probability of becoming addicted, using it at an early age often leads to more severe forms of addiction. Usually, this happens in teens as their judgment, self-control, and decision-making is still vulnerable to temptations.

At Detox of South Florida, we want everyone to live a life free from addiction. Contact our team today about detoxing in a safe and controlled medical situation. Then continue on into rehab to learn how to live your new life free from addiction and your old habits.

What Is Drug Addiction?
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