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Addiction as a Brain Disease

For most of history, drug addiction was viewed as a moral flaw. Common beliefs dictated addicts were lacking in willpower and were often punished rather than treated for their disease. With the passage of time has come scientific discovery. We now know that drug addiction is in fact a brain disease.

As scientists have expanded their research on addiction as a brain disease more and more information is being uncovered. Information gained from research has been useful in developing programs to help prevent drug addiction, helping those impacted by drug addiction, as well as how to treat those that are drug addicted.

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain. They change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.

Addiction is a lot like other diseases, such as heart disease. Both disrupt the normal, healthy functioning of the underlying organ, have serious harmful consequences, and are preventable and treatable. If left untreated, it can last a lifetime.

There have been extensive brain imaging studies of people addicted to drugs that demonstrate the physical changes in the brain. The areas impacted are critical to decision making, behavior control, judgment, learning, and memory. This alteration of the brain shows us how the brain of drug addicted individuals is hindered in its functioning. While an individual with a normal brain might make a decision to stop doing drugs once problems arose, an individual with a drug addicted brain doesn’t follow that same path.

Scientists are continuing to research addiction as a brain disease. Current research indicates genetics play a significant role as a risk factors to predict drug addiction. Environmental factors also play a heavy roll. Everything from having a lack of parental support to living in a community with poverty can impact drug addiction development.

What we know is regardless of the path that lead to drug addiction, it is a brain disease. The brains of those addicted to drugs are different than their non-addicted counterparts. This knowledge allows us to develop treatment programs to support those looking to recover. Just as it’s possible for the heart to heal from heart disease, it’s possible for the brain to heal from drug addiction.

Detox is the first step you take in healing from addiction. The journey to recovery begins by admitting that you want and need help. Call The Gardens Wellness Center today for information on our residential detox programs:  (844) 325-9168