A Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Addiction

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Addiction is a complex subject, rarely understood by the person addicted and those around him. It usually takes a long time for people to admit they have an addiction. Friends and family also don’t know how to react when a loved one shows signs of addiction.  

Here is a beginner’s guide to understanding addiction.

  1. What causes addiction?
  2. Why do people get addicted?
  3. Can you become addicted after a single use?

What Causes Addiction?

Addiction is often associated with words like “enslaved” and “bound to” and can encapture someone. What starts as a choice soon becomes enslavement because the addicted party feels they cannot do without alcohol, drugs, sex, or even gambling. 

Addiction is caused by powerful influences in the brain often associated with unique personality traits, such as sensation seeking, high vulnerability to stress, and a moody personality. Addiction manifests as a craving, loss of control, and continued use despite harmful consequences.   

Unfortunately, many people assume addiction is a social problem associated with poverty, unemployment, and social disadvantages. While this is true, there are some doubts because not everyone in these situations becomes addicted. If anything, some successful people are addicts. Instead, addiction is linked to biological characteristics, making some people more vulnerable to addiction.

Why Do People Get Addicted?

It is difficult to point to a specific reason why people get addicted. This is because the reasons vary from person to person. Addiction is maladaptive and persistent. Some people use drugs and alcohol to escape reality and cope with difficult situations. Instead of coping, addiction undermines one’s ability to cope even more. 

People get addicted because the brain adapts by lowering the cells’ ability to respond to the source of addiction. The euphoria one felt when they first took a drug becomes elusive. An addict digs deeper, searching for that pleasure, only now they have to take even more drugs or alcohol to find it. 

Brain adaptations reduce feelings of pleasure, so the things the person once found enjoyable cease to be meaningful. The addict becomes even more withdrawn, and to escape his reality, he turns even further to addiction which provides some comfort. 

This video illustrates the neurological connection between addiction and the brain. It also gives a detailed illustration on why people become addicted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ras8yOq30WY&t=466s 

Can You Become Addicted After Single Use?

All addicts started by indulging once, but they went back for more. An argument against addiction resulting from single-use is that some people indulge in the same activities as addicts but do not become addicted. 

You cannot become addicted after a single-use. However, just one use is enough to cause chemical changes in the brain. You will experience feelings of pleasure, which you will seek repeatedly. As the brain chemical imbalance occurs, unique personality traits emerge, resulting in addiction. 

Addiction is a neurological disease often manifested in behavioral changes. Think of addiction as you would a brain tumor, which usually results in personality changes. For example, some people become impulsive, angry, or withdrawn. The same happens to addicts, and the risks of addiction are high even after indulging once. 

Several theories have been fronted over the years to try and explain addiction. However, recent research has focused more on addiction being a brain disease. Once you take that first step to indulge in something that may initially appear safe, your brain’s reaction will determine your path to addiction. Addicts need help to overcome their addiction because it is beyond their control.

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