Homeless, Homeless man drug and alcohol addict sitting alone and depressed on the street leaning against a red brick building wall feeling anxious and lonely, social documentary concept

What Makes a Person Addicted?

When people use drugs, it changes the way the brain behaves. That’s why it takes so much effort to overcome alcohol and drug use disorders. In fact, 1.27 million people in the United States receive medication-assisted treatment to help them overcome the debilitating symptoms of withdrawal syndrome. Drugs impact the way your brain sends messages to the rest of your body and corrupt the way you perceive reality.

On America’s Rehab Campuses, we use medication-assisted treatment to help you overcome the symptoms of withdrawal in order to move forward with your recovery. Of course, we also have numerous alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs that we tailored to your specific needs.

Keep reading to learn how your brain gets hooked on drugs.

How Does Your Brain Get Hooked on Drugs?

There are two ways that drug and alcohol abuse can disrupt the way your brain works:

  • By taking over the brain’s chemical message function
  • By stimulating the reward center of the brain

Basically, drugs and alcohol trick your brain into responding in a certain way. You may wonder how drugs do this. Many drugs have similar chemicals to the neurotransmitters in your brain, and this allows them to hijack the brain’s messaging system to make you crave more drugs or alcohol.

With some drugs, such as meth or cocaine, the brain can release more chemicals than normal. This can result in an overload of dopamine, which regulates your movements, feelings, pleasure, and pain.

Because dopamine produces a high, this is generally an enjoyable feeling. The body starts to associate this feeling with drugs, which in result means a person continues to use them to reach that same high. Eventually, your brain gets used to the high doses. At this time, it takes more and more drugs taken more frequently to get the same euphoric feeling. Once you become tolerant, you may also become dependent on it.

In summary, your brain doesn’t know the difference between pleasure artificially invoked by drugs and pleasure from a real encounter such as eating good food, having a sexual encounter or exercising.

Who Becomes Addicted to Alcohol and Drugs?

Anyone can become hooked on drugs under the right or wrong circumstances. However, there are three major factors that impact whether you are at a high risk for addiction:

  • Genetics (family history of addiction)
  • Environmental factors (unstable home life, peer pressure, etc.)
  • Whether you decide to try drugs in the first place

Since the environment in which you live plays such an important factor in drug addiction, it’s important to learn how to deal with stress, depression and other negative emotions in a healthy way. Using alcohol or drugs as a reward or escape mechanism typically leads down the wrong path.

Development also plays a big factor. People can become addicted to drugs or alcohol at any age but many start in their late teens and young adulthood. Since the brain is still forming, this is a particularly vulnerable time to experiment with drug use.

Addiction Treatment in Arizona

Although genetics and environment play a big role in whether you are prone to drug or alcohol abuse, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Making good decisions and focusing on positive pursuits can help prevent drug and alcohol addiction. Mental health also plays a role in the likelihood of substance use disorders. At America’s Rehab Campuses, we understand the important connection between the mind and body. For this and other reasons, we offer dual diagnosis treatment in which you receive counseling for mental health disorders and substance use disorders.

Contact us today to find out more about how your brain and body become addicted to illicit substances or to learn more about our innovative treatment programs.