Nobody starts out with the intention of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, but the current addiction statistics are striking. Almost one in ten people are addicted to drugs or alcohol in the United States. Today addiction is recognized to be a chronic disease that occurs when the brain’s chemistry and function are altered. People can become addicted to alcohol, street drugs such as cocaine or heroin, prescription drugs such as opioids and benzodiazepines, and even behaviors such as eating, sex, or gambling. Addiction goes beyond lacking ‘self-control’. Like any disease, addiction is best combated with professional help.
What is Addiction?
Addiction occurs when repeated behavior such as substance abuse rewires the brain to believe it needs the substance to stay alive. The brain interprets all pleasure the same way, regardless of what is causing the brain to release dopamine. Actions and substances that release dopamine in the brain include drugs, eating, sex, and receiving a monetary reward.
An addict repeatedly abuses drugs or alcohol because their brain needs it. When the brain doesn’t receive the substances, it sets off cravings. The cravings don’t go away until the drugs or alcohol are taken again.
What Causes Addiction?
Several common causes of addiction include:
1. The Pleasure Principle: This is one of the main causes of addiction. Addictive substances impact how the brain registers pleasure when it comes to drugs and alcohol. The brain registers all pleasure the same way, releasing dopamine. Eventually, this pleasurable response is released so consistently that it drives someone to seek out this substance constantly. Addictive drugs provide a shortcut to this pleasure system, flooding the area with dopamine, which gets someone hooked on drugs or alcohol.
2. Learning and Memory: Once this pleasure signal is triggered, a transition process takes place where someone becomes hooked on drugs or alcohol. This path is called learning and memory. Dopamine interacts with other transmitters in the brain, taking over the brain’s learning system. This learning system is important because it also drives other processes that people need to survive. Eventually, the brain learns that it requires that pleasurable substance to survive. Memory sets in as addictive substances overload this circuit, leading to addiction over the course of repeated exposures.
3. The Drive Associated with Compulsion: As people slide deeper into the clutches of addiction, compulsion takes over. This is the loss of all control associated with regulating the use of an addictive substance. The pleasure starts to subside; however, the memory persists, leading to compulsion. Cravings continue, snaring those who are pursuing sobriety. People have a compulsive drive to seek out that addictive substance. They will sacrifice relationships with family members and friends. They will empty their bank accounts. They will do anything to seek out that next fix.
These three causes work together to snare somebody in the trap of addiction. Fortunately, recovery is possible. With the help of trained professionals, people can not only get sober but maintain sobriety in California.
Let Us Help!
At Above It All, we are a free addiction treatment placement service that offers 24/7 assistance to those struggling with drug abuse. We can provide you with help in finding the right treatment for your needs in the Southern California area. With the help of our comprehensive treatment matching service, we will help you get the help that you deserve. Our program includes admissions, insurance verification, transportation assistance, and care management that will be with you every step of the way. If you are looking for help with addiction treatment in the Southern California area, please give us a call today!