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What Does It Mean When We Call Addiction a Brain Disorder?

The term acknowledges that addiction is a chronic but treatable medical condition involving changes to circuits in the brain involved in reward, stress, and self-control that could explain the compulsive nature of their drug taking (National Institute Drug Abuse).

These brain changes interfere with how people experience normal pleasures in life such as food and sex, their ability to control their stress level, their decision-making, their ability to learn and remember, etc. These changes make it much more difficult for someone to stop taking the drug even when it is having negative effects on their life and they want to quit (NIDA National Institute on drug abuse).

More than 174 people die every day from drug overdoses. To seek treatment is absolutely essential to prevent escalating numbers of deaths, not to mention reduce the devastation of lives, careers, and families caused by addiction (Dr. Nora Volkow: NIDA March 23, 2018).

Health Consequences of Drug Misuse

Drug use can have a wide range of short- and long-term effects. Short-term effects can range from changes in appetite, heart rate, blood pressure, and/or mood swings, heart attack, stroke, psychosis, overdose, and even death. Longer-term effects can include heart or lung disease, cancer, mental illness, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis (NIDA National Institute on drug abuse).

Every year, the harmful use of alcohol kills 2.5 million people, including 320 000 young people between 15 and 29 years of age. It is the third leading risk factor for poor health globally, and harmful use of alcohol was responsible for almost 4% of all deaths in the world, according to the estimates for 2004 (World Health Organization management of substance article).

Recognizing the Signs of Substance Abuse

When a full-blown addiction develops, it can be extremely difficult to stop using drugs without effective professional treatment. Drug abuse wreaks havoc on the body and mind and can eventually become deadly. When you realize that you or someone you love has a problem, it’s essential to get help right away. There is no shame in admitting that you need treatment for drug abuse; doing so can be life-saving ( Signs & Symptoms of drug abuse).

Blog: James Donovan 11-10-2018

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