Why Are Drugs Addictive
People get addicted to drugs for many reasons, but one of the major factors behind why drugs are so addictive is the rewarding, euphoric high they bring about. Drugs have the potential to significantly impact the systems in the brain relating to pleasure and motivation and make it difficult for other natural pleasures to compare.1
Every person experiences natural rewards in their life like a delicious meal, a favorite song, the pleasant feeling following exercise, or the happiness after sex, but drugs offer something more. The high that comes from abusing drugs is bigger, brighter, louder, and more gratifying than any natural reward, and it can make natural rewards seem small, dim, and quiet by comparison.
Will Power Alone Is Not Enough Most Need Help To Achieve Sobriety
Considering addiction as a disease does not absolve the addict from dealing with consequences. It is a degenerative disease, causing decay of values, morality, and integrity. The addicts true identity also deteriorates as the compulsion drives them to make choices that violate themselves and others. Its a process thats difficult for addicts to reconcile. They will often see themselves as bad, rather than sick. This crisis creates a deep sense of shame, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. In reality, the addict deals with a sickness that manifests in destructive behavior. Understanding and accepting addiction as a disease does not excuse this behavior, but can serve to alleviate the destructive self-judgment which accompanies addiction.
Principles of honesty, personal responsibility, and accountability are crucial steps on the path to recovery. Most addicts and their families need help with this process. A professional diagnosis of addiction brings greater responsibility. For recovery to occur, the addict needs to make changes in virtually every area of their life, addressing the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological causes of the disease. Have hope! Full recovery is possible. With proper help, many are on this path and have realized happiness and freedom. While there is no cure for addiction, this is a disease where you can CHOOSE REMISSION.
Find Yourself At Discover Recovery Treatment Center
There are so many people who misunderstand addiction. In fact, the misconceptions about addiction that have been so common have stigmatized substance abuse and often discourage people from seeking treatment. As a result, a very low percentage of people who are chemically dependent actually receive the care they need to get sober.
At Discovery Recovery Treatment Center, our prioritize is to use innovative treatments and techniques to help those in need. Additionally, we have built our programs around our core values of integrity, transparency, passion, and community.
To learn more about our programs, or to find out how Discover Recovery can help, contact us today.
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What About Choice Responsibility And Accountability
As previously discussed, the addiction disease model helps EXPLAIN the addicts behavior. This does not EXCUSE the behavior. For some, it can be challenging to reconcile disease and choice.
Indeed, there is a choice involved. If the addict never chose to use it in the first place, the neurobiological forces would never have been put into effect. And if there were no capacity to choose, an addict would never be able to stop once the physiological processes had taken control. Clearly, choices need to be made the choice to stop using, and the healthy choices to do the necessary recovery work.
There are incredible benefits that come with viewing addiction through the lens of disease.
What Is The Disease Model Of Addiction
Somewhere along the way, youve probably heard someone mention the disease model of addiction. But what does that even mean?
The disease model of addiction is currently the most widely accepted school of thought when it comes to how we understand addiction. More importantly, the disease model informs how we approach recovery and treatment. So to make sure youre up to speed, lets have a discussion about the disease model of addiction. In particular
What is it?
Why does it offer the best explanation for addiction?
And how has the disease model informed addiction treatment?
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Teaching Addiction Sciencethe Neurobiology Of Drug Addiction
The second in a 5-part series, explores the science behind addiction, describing the brain and reward center, and the action of heroine and cocaine.
The objective of the presentation is to illustrate to the audience the basic function of the brain, the neurobiological basis for addiction and the actions of heroin and cocaine. The presentation is arranged in 4 sections. The first section introduces the brain and presents some basic neurobiology, the second introduces the reward pathway and the third and fourth present the mechanism of action of heroin and cocaine and how each affects the reward system.
This presentation can be downloaded as a Powerpoint file – The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction and was last reviewed in November, 2019
The Disease Model And Addiction Treatment
Now that weve covered the disease model, lets go over some of the ways that the disease model of addiction has informed how we view and treat addiction today.
For the most part, all treatment methods and techniques used in substance abuse treatment programs today are informed by the disease model. Because rather than working toward a cure for substance abuse, drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers approach the treatment of addiction much like a psychiatrist would approach the treatment of a mental or emotional disorder, which is to say that the goal is more about identifying and managing symptoms of the disorder.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often the backbone of a substance abuse treatment center, for instance. Also commonly called talk therapy, CBT is used to explore some of the underlying causes of addiction. Its also used to identify a persons triggers and teach strategies for avoiding or nullifying those triggers to safeguard sobriety. Again, CBT is largely for identifying and managing symptoms of addiction.
This is why you often see many holistic treatments and training in substance abuse treatment programs. For instance, its quite common for drug and alcohol treatment centers to offer life skills training or financial coaching, both of which address some of the common effects of long-term addiction.
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What Is Drug Addiction
Drug addiction, in the simplest terms is the strong compulsion to get and use substances, even though a number of undesirable and dangerous consequences are likely to occur. Addiction has been described as a medical disorder that affects the brain and changes behavior.1 Various substances including alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription medications, and even some over-the-counter medicines may fuel the development of an addiction.
Certain behaviors such as compulsive gambling or sex are sometimes labeled as addictions, but here, the term addiction is reserved for drugs of abuse.2
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse problem and are unsure of what to do or where to turn, call our confidential, free, hotline today at .
The cost of treatment should not be a barrier to finding help and insurance can frequently cover all or at least a part of the cost of detox, rehab, and associated treatments. Find out if your insurance is in-network today.
The Disease Model Of Addiction
The definition of addiction varies among individuals, organizations, and medical professionals, and societys viewpoints about addiction are ever-evolving. The National Institute on Drug Abuse , the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , and the National Institutes of Health all similarly describe addiction as a long-term and relapsing condition characterized by the individual compulsively seeking and using drugs despite adverse consequences.1
These organizations call addiction a disorder or a disease because:1
- Addiction changes how the brain responds in situations involving rewards, stress, and self-control.
- These changes are long-term and can persist well after the person has stopped using drugs.
Comparing substance addiction to heart disease may help illustrate why it is defined as a disease by so many:1
- Both addiction and heart disease disturb the regular functioning of an organ in the body the heart for heart disease and the brain for addiction.
- They both can lead to a decreased quality of life and increased risk of premature death.
- Addiction and many types of heart disease are largely preventable by engaging in a healthy lifestyle and avoiding poor choices.
- They are both treatable to prevent further damage.
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Understanding The Disease Model Of Addiction
Many years ago, addiction was seen as a behavioral or even a moral problem. In other words, people who suffered from addiction were considered to be bad people who lacked self-control and self-discipline. Although we would eventually come to see addiction differently, its worth noting that those early misconceptions still inform attitudes and prejudices toward addiction to this very day.
Eventually, we realized that addiction isnt merely a behavioral problem. After all, when a person develops an addiction, the likelihood of that person being able to get sober and stay sober is exceedingly unlikely, at least without reinforcing sobriety and healthy behavior.
The earliest treatment centers were actually churches, convents, and other religious centers. People who were chemically dependent were brought to these kinds of locations to give them a safe space to detox. From there, they were encouraged to join support groups and recovery fellowships. But over time, more active coaching and guidance were offered at those religious centers. Thats when substance abuse treatment and drug rehabs entered the picture.
With decades of observation and study, we recognized there are underlying neurological changes at play. This was facilitated by the realization that the development of an addiction coincides with significant functional and even structural changes in the brain.
Is Addiction A Choice: Opponents Of The Disease Model
The idea that substance addiction is a disease is not, however, universal. Some would argue that addiction is not a disease because:4
- Addiction is not transmissible or contagious.
- Addiction is not autoimmune, hereditary, or degenerative.
- Addiction is self-acquired, implying the person gives the condition to himself.
Proponents of this way of thinking put much more emphasis on the social and environmental factors of addictionone proponent claims that addictions may be cured by locking addicts in a cell where there is no access to substancesinstead of on the brain changes that occur as a result of substance abuse.4
Some schools of thought view treatment for addiction as little more than the individual making the decision to stop using.5
Specific aspects of these opinions are hard to refute. For example, it is true that most substance abuse begins with a decision .
But while no one forced an addicted person to begin misusing a substance, its hard to imagine someone would willingly ruin their health, relationships, and other major areas of their lives. Surely, if overcoming addiction were as easy as simply choosing to stop, the problem of addiction would be much easier to address and relapse would not be as common.
No matter how one defines addiction or what term is used, what is clear is that addiction is an enormous problem in the U.S. that affects millions. Another irrefutable fact is that many drugsboth illicit and prescriptionare quite addictive.
The Disease Model Of Opioid Addiction
The Disease Model of Opioid Addiction Vincent Giannetti, PhD Pharmacy Benedict Kolber, PhD Biological Sciences
Outline Giannetti Chemical dependency Abuse vs dependence Evolutionary psychology of abuse Disease process of abuse Kolber Biological mechanisms of abuse
Chemical Dependency Periodic or chronic intoxication produced by the repeated consumption of a drug Characteristics Compulsion to use in spite of negative consequences Tolerance and tendency to increase dose Physical and or psychological dependence Behavioral impairment
Abuse versus Dependence Abuse Behavioral impairment Continued use in spite of negative consequences Dependence Tolerance Withdrawal Loss of control Preoccupation with use to the exclusion of other activities
Evolutionary Psychology I Old brain Brain stem, cerebellum and limbic system Regulates respiration, heartbeat, body temperature, muscle movement, Mediate emotions and cravings Imprint survival memories Old brain retains addiction memories Adapted Uppers Downers and All Arounders: Inaba and Cohen, CNS Productions Inc
Evolutionary Psychology II New Brain Neocortex Information processing and reasoning New brain is late in developing Old brain predominates in stress and crisis Adapted Uppers Downers and All Arounders: Inaba and Cohen, CNS Productions Inc.
Continuum of Drug Abuse Experimental Social-recreational Circumstantial-situational Intensified Compulsive
Is Addiction A Disease
Perhaps the most widely accepted addiction model today is the Disease Model, where addiction is defined as a disease involving biological and genetic factors. Scientific research now shows evidence of neurobiological processes that occur in the brain of addicts when using mood-altering substances. Addiction is seen as a chronic brain illness marked by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences.
The use of most addictive substances, including alcohol, heroin/opiates, methamphetamine, marijuana, etc. floods the brain with a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This causes structural changes to the brain, leading to compulsive behavior and progressive loss of control over substance use. This process alters the pleasure circuit of the brain, creating an artificially high sense of reward. Because of this surge of dopamine, the brain assigns a much greater value to the drug, often seeing it as more essential than food or sex.
The area of the brain controlling judgment, reason, decision making, memory, and behavioral control becomes compromised. Values, morality, and integrity are disregarded. In that state, the craving and compulsion for the substance often override the pain and memory of past negative consequences or the fear of future consequences whether loss of family, relationships, jobs, finances, freedom, esteem or health. This phenomenon of craving helps explain why the addict can act in such seemingly thoughtless, careless, even reckless ways.
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