Understanding The Biology Of Drug Addiction

Drug use is on the rise in the United States today, with an estimated 8% of the population aged 12 and older reporting that they have used an illegal drug within the past 30 days. While there are many reasons why people turn to drugs, addictions often stem from biological processes within the brain.

Taking the time to understand these processes will help you gain a more accurate picture of drug abuse that can be used to treat addicts in the future.

Addictions Can Be Genetic

Many people who become addicted to drugs have a genetic predisposition toward addiction. Scientists are actively working to identify which genes are responsible for addiction by studying large families with a history of addictive behavior. The DNA sequences of family members who do not suffer from addiction are compared with the DNA sequences of those family members who are exhibiting addictive behavior.

Researchers hope that by isolating the gene responsible for addiction they can help those who are predisposed to addictive behaviors recognize the potential danger associated with recreational drug use. This knowledge could help to reduce the number of people addicted to drugs in the future.

Addicts Experience Chemical Changes In Their Brain

The brain regulates bodily functions and emotions by releasing various chemicals. Repeated drug use can permanently alter the ways in which the brain releases these chemicals, resulting in some significant changes. Some notable side effects of these long-lasting chemical changes in the brain include: inability to think clearly, inability to exercise good judgment, and the inability to feel normal without the use of drugs.

Recognizing that the logical thought process of an addict has been permanently altered through drug use allows treatment facilities, such as http://www.olalla.org, to develop programs that accommodate the unique cognitive needs of recovering addicts.

There May Be A Biological Explanation For Relapse

Relapse is one of the primary concerns for any treatment facility. While relapses have been attributed to weak convictions in the past, researchers are discovering that there may be a biological reason why some addicts experience a relapse.

Studies conducted with mice (which experience addiction in a manner similar to that of human beings) show that drug use alters the "reward" circuits in the brain, making them reliant on the drug to function properly. Since human beings thrive on the highs created by these "reward" circuits, a relapse occurs when an individual is biologically unable to stimulate the "reward" circuits naturally.

While the psychological factors that contribute to drug addiction will continue to be an important aspect in treating these addictions, understanding the biological components of drug addiction will help rehab centers provide better care for recovering addicts in the future.

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