why do we get addicted to drugs
Drugs are chemicals. When someone puts these chemicals into their body, either by smoking, injecting, inhaling, or eating them, they tap into the brainБs communication system and tamper with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Different drugsБbecause of their chemical structuresБwork differently. We know there are at least two ways drugs work in the brain:
Some drugs, like and, have chemical structures that mimic that of a neurotransmitter that naturally occurs in our bodies. In fact, these drugs can БfoolБ our receptors, lock onto them, and activate the nerve cells. However, they don't work the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and the neurons wind up sending abnormal messages through the brain, which can cause problems both for our brains as well as our bodies. Other drugs, such as б and, cause nerve cells to release too much dopamine, which is a natural neurotransmitter, or prevent the normal recycling of dopamine. This leads to exaggerated messages in the brain, causing problems with communication channels. ItБs like the difference between someone whispering in your ear versus someone shouting in a microphone. The БHighБ From Drugs/Pleasure Effect Most drugs of abuseБ, and othersБaffect the brainБs БrewardБ circuit, which is part of the limbic system.
Normally, the reward circuit responds to feelings of pleasure by releasing the neurotransmitter. Dopamine creates feelings of pleasure. Drugs take control of this system, causing large amounts of dopamine to flood the system. This flood of dopamine is what causes the БhighБ or intense excitement and happiness (sometimes called euphoria) linked with drug use. The Repeat Effect Our brains are wired to make sure we will repeat healthy activities, like eating, by connecting those activities with feeling good. Whenever this reward circuit is kick-started, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again,б without thinking about it. Because drugs of abuse come in and БhijackБ the same circuit, people learn to use drugs in the same way. After repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine. Neurons may begin to reduce the number of dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine. The result is less dopamine signaling in the brainБlike turning down the volume on the dopamine signal. Because some drugs are toxic, some neurons also may die. As a result, the ability to feel any pleasure is reduced. The person feels flat, lifeless, and depressed, and is unable to enjoy things that once brought pleasure.
Now the person needs drugs just to bring dopamine levels up to normal, and more of the drug is needed to create a dopamine flood, or БhighББan effect known as Бtolerance. Б Watch our video to learn more. Long-Term Effects Drug use can eventually lead to dramatic changes in neurons and brain circuits. These changes can still be present even after the person has stopped taking drugs. This is more likely to happen when a drug is taken over and over. WhoБs Most Likely to Become Addicted? Each personБs body and brain is different. People also react differently to drugs. Some the feeling the first time they try it and want more. Others hate it and never try again. Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. But it can happen to anyone and at any age. Some things may raise your chances of addiction, including: Family history. Your genes are responsible for about half of your odds. If your parents or siblings have problems with or drugs, youБre more likely as well. Women and men are equally likely to become addicted. Early drug use. ChildrenБs brains are still growing, and drug use can change that. So taking drugs at an early age may make you more likely to get addicted when you get older.
Mental disorders. If youБre depressed, have trouble paying attention, or worry constantly, you have a higher chance of addiction. You may turn to drugs as a way to try to feel better. Troubled. If you grew up with family troubles and arenБt close to your parents or siblings, it may raise your chances of addiction. An urge to use the drug every day, or many times a day. You take more drugs than you want to, and for longer than you thought you would. You always have the drug with you, and you buy it even if you canБt afford it. You keep using drugs even if it causes you trouble at work or makes you lash out at family and friends. You spend more time alone. You donБt take care of yourself or care how you look. You steal, lie, or do dangerous things like driving while high or have unsafe sex. You spend most of your time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the drug. You feel sick when you try to quit. If your drug use is out of control or causing problems, talk to your doctor. Getting better from drug addiction can take time. ThereБs no cure, but treatment can help you stop using drugs and stay drug-free. Your treatment may include, medicine, or both. Talk to your doctor to figure out the best plan for you. б 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
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