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Why Do People Become Addicted to Drugs?

It’s no secret that our brains want us to continue doing things that we enjoy. Whether it’s indulging over a juicy cheeseburger or feeling the rush of a rollercoaster ride – if we enjoy it, our brains won’t let us forget it.

The same, unfortunately, goes for drug and alcohol use.

Using drugs or drinking alcohol uses the part of our brains that make us feel good. Drugs also imitate the brain’s natural chemical messengers, making these “good” feelings even more noticeable. For example, some drugs (cocaine or meth) have a similar makeup as the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for emotions, movements, and pleasure/pain. These drugs can interfere with the way the brain typically recycles this chemical and results in an overload of dopamine.

Dopamine produces a high which, to most, is an enjoyable feeling, so your body begins associating this feeling with drugs. This is how addiction begins. Your brain wants that same feeling again which means you must continue using drugs to reach the same high over and over again. Over time, if this same drug use continues, other pleasurable activities become less pleasurable, and you could find yourself having to take that drug just to feel “normal” again.

Does Everyone Become Addicted to Drugs?

Anyone can become an addict and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to drugs. As with most other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol ranges from person to person.

There are multiple risk factors, however, that make a person more susceptible to becoming addicted, than others. Risk factors include:

  • Community and/or family poverty

  • Lack of parental supervision

  • Poor social skills – Those who struggle with social anxiety tend to use drugs or alcohol in order to make friends.

  • Negative familial relationships

  • Mental disorders – Drug use and mental health problems affect the same parts of the brain.

  • Drug experimentation and/or lack of hobbies/interests

  • Genetics – Scientists estimate that genes, including the effects environmental factors have on a person’s gene expression, called epigenetics, account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s risk of addiction.

Basically, while addiction is often genetic, it can also be greatly affected by the environment in which a person is raised. Just think about it: if drugs and alcohol are harder to obtain, you are probably less likely to consider using the substances in the first place.

The good news? Many children whose parents had drug problems won’t become addicted to drugs. Of course, the chances are higher, but there are many other factors at play.

If you are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, ABowens Drug and Alcohol Counseling is here to help. Remember, it’s never too late, or too early, to ask for help with your addiction.

Schedule your session online or call our office today, at (678)-866-4045.

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