Why is Addiction Called Chemical Dependency?

Addiction is defined as being addicted to a certain substance, activity, or thing.  Yet, what does being addicted mean?  When you’re addicted to something, you develop a deep craving for it.  If you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may start using them recreationally, but after some time your body develops a dependence and using no longer becomes enjoyable.  Someone who is addicted to something continues to use because they have lost control over it.  Their body has such a deep mental and physical craving for it, despite having continual negative outcomes from using.  Once you’re addicted, your wants have little relevance anymore.  Addiction means that a substance runs your life.  It controls your behaviors and actions, and can be responsible for the deterioration of personal health and relationships.
Drugs and alcohol are composed of chemicals.  Alcohol is made through the process of fermentation.  The metabolic process happens when an organism, such as bacteria or yeast, transforms a carbohydrate into ethanol.  Ethanol is a type of alcohol, and the main ingredient in alcoholic beverages.  Ethanol is a chemical that, when ingested, travels through the bloodstream to the brain.  The brain sees pleasure all the same way, whether it is from alcohol, sex, or food.  There is a part of the brain in the frontal lobe referred to as the brain’s pleasure center.  When a chemical enters the body and causes pleasurable effects, the brain is releasing neurotransmitters called dopamine.  Your brain remembers what it was like to have a temporary excess of dopamine released, and it therefore craves it again because it was pleasurable.
Illicit and prescription drugs cause this phenomenon, as well.  Whether it is methamphetamine, cocaine, valium, or heroin, each targets the pleasure center in the brain, causing a chemical reaction.  Chemical dependency is formed this way.  The brain and, eventually the body, become so dependent on a certain chemical that it is referred to as addiction.  A person who is chemically dependent may use more than one substance at a time in an attempt to intensify the effects.  Many times a person who is addicted to a particular substance, will use an alternative substance if their primary choice isn’t available.  This causes a person to become chemically dependent on several different substances.  Many who don’t understand addiction may think you can simply stop using, yet once you have become chemically dependent, it’s possible you will need professional help to break your addiction.
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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