For many years, addiction was classified as a behavioral disorder. People, including doctors and scientists, believed it was a social, moral, or criminal problem. It wasn’t until recent years when research revealed addiction is actually a chronic brain disorder. Behavioral and criminological issues may stem from being addicted to a particular substance, but they are not the primary cause. Addiction is not a choice. A person who is genetically predisposed to addiction may not know they are at a risk until it’s too late.
Most people who do not suffer from addiction don’t understand how it works. They may wonder why their loved one simply won’t stop using. Relationships might be destroyed in the wake and an addict’s health deteriorate, yet someone who is truly addicted to a substance usually has the inability to stop on their own.
When a person with the potential for addiction uses for the first time, their nucleus accumbens, otherwise known as the brain’s pleasure center, is triggered. The pleasure center in the brain reacts the same way to different pleasurable acts, such as eating. When pleasure is received by the body, the nucleus accumbens releases an excess amount of dopamine, causing a euphoric rush or high that addicts describe. The brain remembers this rush and always craves more. Cravings can be so strong that an addict or alcoholic will give in and use more to make them go away.
Addiction can be similarly compared to obsessive compulsive disorder. Although they involve different neurotransmitters, addiction causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. For many years, doctors referred to OCD as a behavioral disorder, as well. Recent years have brought the invention of new neurological technology, which allows scientists to better understand what is going on in the brain.
Nowadays, addiction is recognized as a brain disease. The chronic nature of the disease requires a lifetime of maintenance. When an addict or alcoholic goes through treatment and gets clean and sober, they are abstinent, but they’re not cured. Just like heart disease and cancer, there is no cure for addiction. The only way is management through treatment and therapy. Addiction may cause behavioral issues, but these issues stem from predisposed neurological problems.
Treatment and recovery for addiction should be simple. Simple Recovery offers dual diagnosis treatment for men and women in a multiphase format encouraging growth and development. Going back to school, back to work, or engaging in volunteer work, our clients waste no time starting their new lives as they continue to heal in mind, body, and spirit.
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