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HELP REDUCE THE STIGMA
Know the facts:
Opioid Addiction Is A Chronic Brain Disease.
Opioids Are Extremely Powerful And Addictive.
Opioids Completely Rewire Your Brain.
A quote from an individual suffering from opioid addiction:
"You wake up every morning to fight the same demons
that left you so tired the night before."
BY UNDERSTANDING THE FACTS, YOU CAN EDUCATE OTHERS.
ADDICTION IS A CHRONIC BRAIN DISEASE
Get the facts about how addiction affects our bodies, our brains, and our behavior, while learning about the biological and psychological factors that often drive addiction.
WHAT IS ADDICTION?
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.
The CDC reports that in the United States, 8–10% of people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol or other drugs. That’s approximately 22 million people. (Cigarette smoking is also an addiction that kills people.)
ADDICTION IS CHRONIC—but it’s also preventable and treatable.
When a disease is chronic, that means it’s long-lasting. It can’t be cured, but it can be managed with treatment. Other examples of chronic diseases include asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
ADDICTION IS A DISEASE
Respected institutions like the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine define addiction as a disease. Studies published in top-tier publications like, The New England Journal of Medicine, support the position that addiction is a brain disease.
A disease is a condition that changes the way an organ functions. Addiction does this to the brain, changing the brain on a physiological level. It literally alters the way the brain works, rewiring its fundamental structure. That’s why scientists say addiction is a disease.
Although there is no cure for addiction, there are many evidence-based treatments that are effective at managing the disease. Like all chronic illnesses, addiction requires ongoing management that may include medication, therapy, and lifestyle change. Once in recovery from substance use disorder, a person can go on to live a healthy and successful life, because addiction is treatable, and recovery should be the expected outcome of treatment.
HOW THE BRAIN RESPONDS TO NATURAL REWARDS & DRUGS
According to National Institute of Drug Abuse, (NIDA), the human brain is wired to reward us when we do something pleasurable. Exercising, eating, and other pleasurable behaviors directly linked to our health and survival trigger the release of dopamine. This not only makes us feel good, but it encourages us to keep doing what we’re doing. It teaches our brains to repeat the behavior.
Drugs trigger that same part of the brain—the reward system. But they do it to an extreme extent, rewiring the brain in harmful ways.
When someone takes a drug, their brain releases extreme amounts of dopamine—way more than gets released as a result of a natural pleasurable behavior. The brain overreacts, reducing dopamine production in an attempt to normalize these sudden, sky-high levels the drugs have created. This is how the cycle of addiction begins.
Take the ZAC43 Pledge
To help reduce stigma: Educate yourself and
others about how drugs rewire the brain.
Once someone is addicted, they’re not using drugs to feel good, they’re using drugs to feel normal.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), "Studies have shown that consistent drug use severely limits a person’s capacity to feel pleasure at all. Over time, drug use leads to much smaller releases of dopamine. That means the brain’s reward center is less receptive to pleasure and enjoyment, both from drugs, as well as from everyday sources, like relationships or activities that a person once enjoyed. Once the brain has been altered by drug use, it requires more and more drugs just to function and feel normal."
WITHDRAWAL IS A PAINFUL EXPERIENCE
Withdrawal occurs when a person who’s dependent on a substance stops taking it completely. Maybe a person is attempting to quit taking a drug, or they are unable to get a drug. Even a person who has been prescribed medication for pain can become dependent and experience withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms can include: overwhelming cravings for drugs or alcohol, muscle aches and pain, depression, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, sleep disturbances, chills, vomiting, goosebumps, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and diarrhea.
The discomfort a person goes through during withdrawal can be so painful and overwhelming that they may choose to take drugs instead of suffering through withdrawal.