When it comes to addiction and understanding how drug abuse works, we have to take a closer look at the actual substances that are used, and how they affect the body. Chemical drugs infiltrate the brains communication system and disrupt the nerve cells in they way they send, receive and process information. Drugs either imitate the brains natural chemical communication system or over stimulate the brains reward circuit. Drugs such as heroin and marijuana have a similar chemical structure known as neurotransmitters which are produced in the brain naturally. In turn such drugs are able to fool the receptors in the brain and in turn activate the brains nerve cells which produce abnormal messages.
Most people’s understanding of why we become addicted to substances is limited and how these substances affect the brain. Most people view addiction and the use of drugs as a social problem and in most instances characterise users as morally weak. A common belief is that if an addict is willing to change their behaviour patterns, then they should also be able to stop their substance abuse.
Stopping drug abuse is not simply matter of having willpower, as it is a disease that has a serious impact on the brain, that is why most people do not understand the complexity of substance abuse addictions. Advanced research has revealed how substance abuse affects the brain and how addiction can be successfully treated whereby addicts can once again resume productive lives.
Drug abuse, as well as alcohol abuse can cause changes in the function and structure of the brain and hence is considered a brain disease. Initially for most users, taking drugs is voluntary; however, repeated substance abuse over time can affect the user’s ability to make sound decisions and can affect their self control as well as create intense impulses to take drugs or alcohol. Due to the changes in the brain, a user will find it challenging to stop using.
Fortunately there are first class rehabilitation centres such as SHARP that help addicts to counteract the powerful disruptive effects of an addiction and get their lives back on track. Treatment approaches are specifically tailored to each individual’s addiction pattern which includes their social, psychiatric and medical problems which can lead to a life without drugs or alcohol.