Addiction can happen to anyone
What do you want to know about drug and alcohol use? What do you need to know?
You can find a thorough resource about the effects of addiction on the brain at https://teens.,drugabuse.gov/teens/drug-facts. Youth — indeed everyone – needs to be educated about drug and alcohol use and parents need the facts to better assist their children in learning and understanding the risks involved with alcohol and drug use and abuse. NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) calls it “Shattering the Myths.” Others might say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Have you seen the videos at Facebook that parents post after their teens have wisdom tooth extractions? Everyone chuckles because the things those kids say are so funny. They are affected, temporarily, by the chemicals used to numb them for the extractions. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The example tells you, though, that chemicals affect the brain.
“They tap into the brain’s communication system and tamper with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Different drugs – because of their chemical structures – work differently,” says NIDA. The agency adds that there are two ways that drugs work in the brain:
¯Imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers.
Marijuana and heroin are cited specifically for “sending abnormal messages through the brain …”
¯Over-stimulating the “reward circuit” of the brain.
Cocaine and methamphetamine exaggerates messages to the brain. The reward system releases dopamine that makes a person enjoy something and want to do it again. In effect, drug use or alcohol use hijacks this system, taking control of the brain. “… dopamine does not cause the rush of feelings; instead it reinforces the desire to use drugs.”
“After repeated drug use,” says NIDA, “the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine.” Less pleasure is the result, so more of the things that increase the pleasure are sought … like the snake swallowing its tail. Addiction.
“Addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes a person to take drugs or alcohol repeatedly despite the harm they cause. The first time a person uses drugs, it’s usually a free choice. However, repeated drug use can change the brain, driving a person to seek out and use drugs over and over, despite negative effects such as stealing, losing friends, family problems or other physical and mental problems brought on by drug use …”
You just don’t know if you will get hooked the first time or after numerous uses. The risks – and the stakes – are too high. Anyone can become addicted to drugs. Can you die from using drugs? In 2017, NIDA reports, 70,200 people died of drug overdose. The year before that, 63,000 people died of overdose. More than three out of five of those deaths involved opioids.
Visit the NIDA website to learn so much more than can be reported here. Knowledge is key. The more you know, the better.
Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org.