Drug Addiction - Is It a Matter of Choice?


  • Author Meerston Langdon
  • Published March 2, 2012
  • Word count 530

Many laypeople still cling to the misconception that addiction is a choice. Even those who understand the neurological basis of this disease are often prejudiced against addicts, treating them as if they were lazy or weak of will.

While people may choose to use drugs in the first place, the development of addiction involves uncontrollable changes in brain chemistry. When people use a drug for the first time, their brains respond with large releases of dopamine - a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of euphoria. These euphoric feelings compel people to seek more of the drug. This positive feedback loop is the same mechanism responsible for the healthy human desires for eating, sex, and other pleasurable and beneficial activities.

However, continued use of a drug causes people's bodies to develop tolerances. In order to mitigate the effects of foreign substances, the human body will down-regulate the amounts of dopamine it releases. Drug users will then have to use ever-larger amounts of drugs in order to feel the same "high."

Eventually, this tolerance will become a dependency. Rather than fight a drug's effects with reduced dopamine responses, the brain will actually incorporate that substance into its normal functions. Addicted people thus require drugs to accomplish daily tasks, and their lives become consumed with compulsions to get high. This phenomenon explains why so many rehab patients appear to be impaired or intoxicated when they go through withdrawal.

Recent discoveries in genetics also lead researchers to believe that addiction is far from a matter of willpower or choice. In test subjects of several species, scientists have seen similar patterns of addictive behaviors develop across generations. However, the genetic characteristics of addiction are complex, and researchers have yet to pinpoint one set of genes responsible for these phenomena.

Finally, the pervasive nature of addiction shows that it is a physiological problem - not a purely mental or social issue. The stereotype of a drug addict is an uneducated homeless person, but people at all levels of society suffer from this disease.

For instance, working professionals often use drugs and develop addictions in response to stress. In fact, some rehab specialists believe that successful people with ambitious personalities are actually more likely than others to develop drug addictions. They may become hooked on certain substances in the same way they are constantly driven by compulsions towards financial success.

A quick look at any television news program or newspaper shows that people in high society are also highly susceptible to addiction. Celebrities are constantly becoming addicted and attending rehab programs. Many people make light of this situation, but it truly shows how anybody can suffer from addiction.

Overall, addiction is a neurological disease which requires clinical treatment. Addiction recovery is thus far more than a matter of gaining willpower or making better choices. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug abuse, click on the links at the bottom of your screen. Find a treatment center near you, and get started on a rehab program at one of the most successful addiction clinics in the country. You can't will your problems away, but you can make the most crucial choice of all by seeking help.

No matter where you live or what time of day or night it is, our New York Drug Rehab has addiction experts standing by to provide a free, confidential consultation about your options.

To check you insurance, request a call back or ask an addiction expert a question, click here regardless of where you live: New York Drug Rehab Center.

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