What is Addiction?

Substance abuse or “addiction” happens when there is a chemical imbalance in the brain, which affects the cognitive ability to control urges. It also alters the feeling of reward, motivation, and memory. The body starts to develop cravings for the alcohol, drug or other “reward” in order to function normally. When people get to this point, they will do anything to obtain that craving.

People who suffer from addiction are prone to relapse and remission and it can transform their life in a significant way. The severity of substance abuse ranges from mild to severe. If addiction occurs, the symptoms are typically more severe and can cause health problems.


Risk Factors

Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol often engage in risky behaviors. It is a common problem, but not everyone will develop dangerous behavior with substance abuse. Studies have suggested that there are risk factors that make some people more prone to substance abuse.

Some risk factors for substance abuse include:

Genetics: Studies have shown that genetics play a role in whether a person will have a problem with substance abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that up to half of your risk of addiction is based on your DNA. You are more likely to experience addictive behaviors if you have a family member who has experienced addiction.

Environment: A person’s environment is another factor that can contribute to the chances of becoming addicted to substances. Lack of parental involvement can play a role, as well as peer pressure. It has been reported that many young people who are dealing with abuse or neglect will use substances to cope with their emotions during the process.

Early Use: The age to which a person starts using drugs or alcohol can play a role in whether they become addicted. A survey done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism determined that young adults between the ages of 18-24 are the most likely to have an alcohol use disorder or other drug addictions.

Drug Used: Depending on the drug of choice, addiction can come on slowly or quickly. For example, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine are more likely to be addictive than alcohol or marijuana.

Method of Use: The way that a person chooses to use a drug can also become a factor in whether they will be addicted or not. By smoking or injecting the substance, you may feel the effect of the drug more quickly, but that means the effects are more likely to lose effect quickly as well. Because of this quick release of the “high”, people will often want to continue using it in order to get the same feeling again.

Metabolism: Our metabolism determines how quickly our body absorbs and processes certain substances that enter our body. This will determine the duration in which the effects of the drug will stay in our systems and if it is for longer or shorter periods of time.

Tolerance: When a person’s tolerance is increased they will need more of the substance to get the same effects, which in turn can lead to addiction.


Why Do People Risk Addiction?

There are many risk factors that can contribute to a person becoming addicted to a substance and some people will continue to use regardless of those risks. Here are some reasons why a person might ignore those warnings and still try an addictive drug:

The Feeling It Creates: Substances often cause a euphoric-like feeling that makes people want more. It can also give a feeling of confidence and power, which is enticing to a lot of people. The feeling you get from using a substance or even from a behavioral habit such as gambling can cause addictive, mood-enhancing effects.

Stress Relief: People who struggle with social anxiety, depression or stress may use substances as a coping strategy to deal with the feelings they are battling.

Enhancing Performance: Athletes or other people who play sports may want to enhance their performance with specific stimulants. Although there may be short-term benefits from this, a lot of people believe it is worth it to take the drug.

Curiosity: Teenagers engage in substance abuse because they have never done it before and want to know what it feels like. The part of our brain that helps with decision-making is still developing, so teenagers are even more at risk of peer pressure.


Treatment for Addiction

If you have a substance abuse problem it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. According to the Recovery Research Institute, there are approximately 20 million individuals in the United States with a substance use disorder. At Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC), we provide personalized treatment and specialize in helping people who have a substance abuse disorder or other behavioral concerns. If you are looking for more information, LVRC is here to help. We are just a phone call away at all times. Call us at (888) 219-1158. Once you do so, you will be in contact with one of our admission counselors who will answer any of your questions or concerns.