Addiction and Drug Abuse Essay Example
Drug abuse and addiction is a huge problem amongst many families across america. Any type of drug addictions are very dangerous emotionally, psychologically, and physically. All though No one wants an addiction to a drug. It hijacks your brain, changing who you are and makes the drug a necessity in your life. Drugs do not have to be illegal to cause an addiction or abuse many legal and Illegal drugs are highly abused with a high chance of addiction due to the so called “reward system” in the human brain.
Many will ask what is a drug addiction? And at what point is it considered an addiction? The short answer is that it's a chronic disease. According to the author of an drug abuse article “The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a "relapsing" disease.” In other words the author is stating that drugs change the brain and the ability of self control to take oneself off the drug even if the drug addict knows the harmful consequences of this drug while putting their own life on the line. Drug addictions do not always start off as obvious either it creeps up on the user slowly until the use of the drug is a habit making it extremely dangerous and the nature of addiction. Even after a drug addict has been clean for a while, relapsing can be an initial problem for weeks, months, years and even a lifetime since the brain may not always be the same without it due to the dependency.
No one wants a dependency on a drug. And there are many factors that play a role in an addiction to a drug one being genetics. According to an article by Harvard Medical School “Genetic vulnerability contributes to the risk of developing an addiction. Twin and adoption studies show that about 40% to 60% of susceptibility to addiction is hereditary. But behavior plays a key role, especially when it comes to reinforcing a habit.” Often society looks down on those who are addicted to drugs Due to the common belief and lack of the knowledge regarding addiction and the causes of addiction. What Harvard Medical Group is attempting to get across to the reader is that this is not always a lot since many different factors play a role in addiction all though genetics takes a larger portion of these reasons. Many people do not take the time to know about addiction unless it affects them personally such as a family member for instance.
From the early 1930s when researchers first started studying what caused addictive behavior, They believed those who were addicted were morally flawed, lacked will power, and had no motivation to take oneself off the drugs. Today it is a much different story since now we know where and how it affects the brain and its chemistry and it is widely known and a chronic disease. When taking drugs that have a high chance of addiction it affects the brain's reward system with a larger release of dopamine or the “happy” feeling molecule.according to the harvard health group addictive drugs “Addictive drugs provide a shortcut to the brain's reward system by flooding the nucleus accumbens with dopamine. The hippocampus lays down memories of this rapid sense of satisfaction, and the amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli.” In other words what the Harvard health group is attempting to get across to the reader is that there is science behind an addiction. When drugs are taken in over and over again your brain develops a dependency on this rush of dopamine. After use many people need a “fix” so they can feel the same satisfaction as they did when taking a drug. This is how relapse, addiction, and tolerance all come into play. After a while your body builds a tolerance to these drugs making your body need more into a potential overdose.
What is the reward system? According to the Harvard medical group the reward system is an area of your brain where dopamine is released. For example if you were to get a good grade in a class you would feel a pleasure knowing that you did good or if you were to score a goal in a sports game you get a sudden surge of happiness or completion. When a user takes drugs it complicates this system. The article states “In nature, rewards usually come only with time and effort. Addictive drugs and behaviors provide a shortcut, flooding the brain with dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Our brains do not have an easy way to withstand the onslaught.
Addictive drugs, for example, can release two to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do, and they do it more quickly and more reliably. In a person who becomes addicted, brain receptors become overwhelmed. The brain responds by producing less dopamine or eliminating dopamine receptors” In other words taking drugs sets off the natural chemical balance in our brains since so much dopamine is released in such a small amount of time our bodys get confused and start to produce less of the chemical. When our body's produce less dopamine than what is naturally supposed to the body feels the need to replace this causing cravings for the drug even though it is harming the body. This is one of the main dangers of drug abuse especially if the user is depressed causing extremely low dopamine levels and a high chance of an overdose.
There are three main groupings of drugs such as depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens each plays a different role on the human brain. Some are more addicting than others with a much higher risk of abuse. According to an article about depressants by brenner Children depressants consist of Anti anxiety medicines (benzo.), Alcohol, GHB, and narcotics. These types of drugs slow down the heart rate and can cause death or overdose if taken with alcohol. Depressants are highly addictive especially if taken for long term use since your body builds a dependency for the drug. The article states “Taking larger than prescribed doses can depress vital nervous system functions, like heart rate and breathing. Taking too much at once, or using depressants with alcohol or other drugs, can slow the heart and breathing enough to cause death.”
In other words these drugs come with major health dangers to the heart in risk of death from a slowed down heart rate. Hallucinogens are much different from depressants since they do not form an addiction to the drug, just a “want” and not a “need. Marijuana, Shrooms, and LSD are all considered hallucinogens, even though they are not addictive they are at high risk for abuse especially by teenagers. The final category are stimulants, Cocaine, methathenapme, anathemine, and PCP. are all considered stimulants. According to the national library of medicine “The potential for misuse, dependence and abuse of stimulants is high. Surveys of persons not in treatment estimate that 10–15% of stimulant users will become dependent “ In other words stimulants have a high risk for a dependency making it very dangerous. Studies show that users who become addicted to stimulants all share a similar trait the article states “The variability seen individuals’ responses to stimulants may be due to genetics, personality traits, or social/environmental cues “ What the author is attempting to get across is that stimulants abusers have a trend and seem to be more dependent than other users.
Drug abuse and addiction is a huge problem through society even though it has been around for centuries only in the past few decades we have discovered that addiction is not just a lack of self discipline or “wanting a drug”. It can root in genetics and alter a person's brain chemistry hijacking the brain, nervous system, and the reward system. Although there is not a cure for drug addictions, help lines offer many different treatments to those who struggle with an abuse. In conclusion,although the problem of drugs may seem impossible to eliminate, there are concrete steps that can be taken to weaken the hold of drugs on society.The danger from drugs is too great to ignore. We must act now to save our society.