"LET'S BURY THE STIGMA,
NOT OUR LOVED ONES"
EDUCATE YOURSELF ON OPIOID ADDICTION KNOW THE FACTS:
OPIOID ADDICTION IS A CHRONIC BRAIN DISEASE.
OPIOIDS ARE EXTREMELY POWERFUL AND ADDICTIVE.
NALOXONE IS NOT A TREATMENT FOR ADDICTION.
"You wake up every morning to fight the same demons that left you so tired the
night before." Quote from an individual suffering from opioid addiction.
BY REALLY KNOWING AND 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.
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.2 (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 illness. 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. And this is how the cycle of addiction begins.
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 at a baseline level.
Withdrawal is a painful, whole-body experience
Withdrawal occurs when a person who’s dependent on a substance stops taking it completely, either in an attempt to quit "cold turkey", or because they can't get the drug. For pain-management and opioid users in particular, even if a user is not addicted, they can still become dependent on the medication, and they would still experience withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can include: overpowering cravings for drugs or alcohol, muscle and joint pain, depression, suicidal thoughts, sleep disturbances, fatigue, chills, goosebumps, difficulty concentrating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
An addicted brain causes behavior changes.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), brain imaging studies from drug-addicted individuals show physical, measurable changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works, and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction.
A bright student might see his grades slip. A social butterfly might suddenly have trouble getting out of bed. A trustworthy sibling might start stealing or lying. Behavioral changes are directly linked to the drug user’s changing brain.
Cravings take over. These cravings are painful, constant, and distracting. The user starts seeking out drugs, no matter the consequences, often resulting in compulsive and destructive behaviors. Especially given the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, the body wants to avoid being in withdrawal at all costs.
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