For a lot of people it’s very hard for them to understand why people become addicted to drugs or alcohol. For these people they experience a normal life and can cope with whatever stress the day throws their way. Because they can cope with their problems they often view those who cannot as being weak. They think that drug abuse and addiction can simply be stopped if the person is mentally strong enough, and that changing their behaviors will help fix their problem. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Friends, family and co-workers often have no understanding of the complexities of addiction. Few are willing to recognize or accept that it is a disease, and because of the way it affects the brain the person is not capable of using willpower to stop. Many don’t realize that with current medical advances, there are now treatment methods that will help the addict and will work, allowing them to lead happy and productive lives again.
Addiction is a condition that at its most basic level, is a brain disease that causes the addict to become compulsive about using despite the consequences that will result from this behavior. It actually changes the function and structure of one’s brain. In the beginning the decision to start is often of their own choosing, but in time the changes caused to the brain will cause a person to lose control of their ability to moderate their usage, as well as affecting their judgment to make a decision to stop. The impulses from the brain can be so intense that they simply cannot stop.
These changes to the brain are what makes it so difficult for the addict to control their actions. Through medical research there are now treatments available that combine medication with behavior therapy, and people who use this combination have a better chance at success than with many other kinds of treatments. This disease is a chronic one and relapses often occur. This does not signify failure, but simple that other treatments should be tried or that the current treatment needs to be adjusted. Science is beginning to revolutionize our understanding of drug abuse and addiction and how to treat this condition.
The problem of addiction is a very costly one for society. It is estimated that almost $500 billion dollars a year is put into numerous programs and treatments, not to mention the cost of the crime that is usually involved in order for someone to feed their habit. This does not even address the social cost as families are broken apart, addicts lose their jobs and things such as child abuse and domestic violence start to increase.
Science is today actually proving that drug abuse and addiction is a very preventable condition. It has been shown that preventative programs are extremely effective in preventing the cycle of addiction from even starting. With programs that involve families, communities and schools, as well as the media, addiction can be stopped before it even starts. Today youths are being educated about the risks involved with drug abuse, and with this knowledge and understanding, many will make the decision to not even begin. As this message gets stronger with the help of teachers and healthcare professionals. Kids and adults who know that they are at risk, are now choosing to not even take the risk of starting. This is a start toward controlling the problem and the subsequent social issues that can result from addiction.