Are you curious about wanting to know what really causes drug addiction? Drug addiction can be categorized as a disease of the brain and body. Drug addiction or substance use abuse like usage of lean or drank triggers behaviours which are not controllable and render a person unable to keep a control on their use of mainly medication, alcohol, cigarettes, or even drugs—whether they are legal to use or not. Addictive materials like alcohol, nicotine, opioid-containing medications like cough syrups, and marijuana are categorized as drugs just as much as cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin. Once you get addicted to a substance, you will gradually feel compelled to use it, no matter how much of a damage that usage does to your brain, body, and your life.

Drug addiction doesn’t become apparent at once; instead, it begins small. As a matter of fact, the small initial magnitude of the problem can be linked to the drug’s recreational use or the “one-time” experience that we do out of curiosity, even if it involves trying something new or a prescription for a painkiller after a surgery or an accident. The problem, however, is that for some people – ones who get addicted – for them, the usage of addictive substances becomes a necessity, that too a frequent one. 

The magnitude of becoming an addict, as well as the overall risk of addiction, differentiates from person to person and substance to substance. The method with which the brain is administered into the body also determines how addictive it is; for instance, drugs, when smoked or injected, hit the brain right away; thus, they are more addictive. Some people even consume purple drank as their drug of choice. Nevertheless, with the passage of time, the intensity of some drugs increases for certain users to feel the same sensation that they felt initially while consuming in lower dosages. Once they become addicted, they need that drug to carry out the mundane tasks simply and to keep themselves from feeling terrible or sick. This is easily one of the signs of addiction. Preventing the drug usage would also cause intense craving, another primary withdrawal symptom.

It goes without saying that every person needs support and help to beat addiction.

How Do People Become Addicted to Drugs?

Like various other physical and mental health problems, many factors can and mostly make significant contributions to drug addiction. The most repeatedly observed contributing reasons behind drug addiction are:

  • Genetics Makeup: The way your body and brain respond to a certain drug is partly determined by your innate traits, those encoded in your genes. Those inherited traits can accelerate or decelerate the way the disease of addiction grows.
  • Environment: Environmental factors, like your exposure to a peer group that tolerates or encourages drug abuse, access to healthcare, your educational opportunities, your beliefs and attitudes, the presence of drugs in your home, and your family history of drugs are factors in the initial use of drugs for many people, and whether that use turns into an addiction.

Drug Addiction and Role of Genes:

According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 percent of your alcohol and drug addiction is dependent on your genes.

A person’s tendency to engage in a certain behaviour is mainly due to three factors:

  1. Motivation: both the reflective and automatic mental processes which guide behavior; this involves both the euphoric feelings you go through right after drug intoxication and your more chosen, conscious attitudes regarding drug use.
  2. Capability: the physical or psychological ability of a person to engage in the behavior.
  3. Opportunity: the social and physical factors of your environment, including the age of onset, that either promote or constrain behavior.

Drug Addiction and Environment:

The environment also plays a crucial role in forming an addiction because the environment affects behaviour. The environmental factors which contribute to drug addiction are:

  1. Use of drugs among peers
  2. Lack of social support
  3. Parental and familial involvement
  4. Socioeconomic status
  5. History of compulsive behaviour
  6. Stress and the ability to cope with it
  7. History of neglect or abuse

Changing environmental factors such as socioeconomic status isn’t easy, but there are ways to combat unfavourable environmental conditions and act to fight drug addiction or keep it from developing in the first place. One strategy is to delay the onset of drug use altogether. Another is to garner environmental motivators for positive behaviour, like seeking education and getting a job. Vigilant family and friends can also model exemplary behaviours and engage with drug abusers in sober activities.

All of these actions can help act against environmental factors that might play a role in causing drug addiction.

Changes in Brain and Drug Addiction:

Drug addiction mostly causes proper physical changes in the brain. That’s because addiction changes the way our brain experiences pleasure by regulating certain nerve cells (neurons). These cells communicate with each other and develop moods and different feelings with the help of chemicals called neurotransmitters, and drug addiction can alter the way neurotransmitters work in the brain.

In the past, people suffering from drug addiction were seen as morally weak people who had made bad choices. This behavioural model, nonetheless, lacks in highlighting the biological changes triggered by addiction in the brain and body. Moreover, it overlooks the comorbidity issue; most people who are drug addicts also experience mental health problems and therefore use drugs to self-medicate for those issues.

Even though the concept of drug addiction being a sign of weakness and lousy character is waning in many progressive areas of society, the idea still breathes in many circles.

Drug Addiction and the Brain:

The most complex organ of the human body is the brain. Drug addiction and substance abuse affect the human brain in three central areas:

  1. The cerebral cortex which controls higher-level executive functions, like decision-making, planning, and the processing of sensory information.
  2. The brain stem manages the basic motor functions, such as sleeping, heart rate and breathing.
  3. The limbic system regulates the way we go through emotional rewards and experience feelings of pleasure and motivation that allow us to perform everyday activities necessary for survival, like eating.
Neurotransmitters help the limbic system function, and they also play a crucial role in drug addiction.