Addiction is a Disease, Not a Moral Weakness

Addiction is a disease

Addiction is a disease and not a moral weakness. This may be difficult for many to understand but there are many scientific facts to prove this is true. The first time we use drugs or drink, it’s a choice and we feel that we have control over our use. But with time we start to need more alcohol or drugs to reach the same level of pleasure and satisfaction as when we first started. A person who suffers from the disease of addiction will focus solely on the getting and using of their substance of choice. Negative consequences soon become evident for the substance abuser and their families or friends. By this time there is already a marked change in the brain leading to compulsive substance abuse aka addiction.

The Addicted Brain

According to scientific research, there are areas in the brain that are key to development and ongoing habit of addiction. The pathways that contain dopamine are where the drugs exert their effects. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that is vital for transmitting signals from one brain cell to the next. These pathways are responsible for our pleasure and reward behaviors.

In an individual with a healthy brain, the dopamine is released in response to natural rewards, such as:

  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Meditation

Drugs and alcohol hijack dopamine pathways and train the brain to believe that drugs are “good” or “pleasurable”. Some drugs have a structure similar to other chemical messengers in the brain that allows them to bind to brain cells and release dopamine. Abusing drugs and alcohol produces euphoric feelings that re-inforces addiction.

Drugs release up to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards release. Different drugs release different amounts of dopamine. The more the drug is abused, the more the reward and pleasure in the brain are increased. The longer a substance is abused, the less dopamine is produced. Dopamine’s impact on the reward structure in the brain lessens and so does the individual’s ability to feel pleasure.

Long Term Effects are Inevitable

 Brain changes that occur from chronic drug abuse and alcohol use have long term effects after a person has quit. This is the reason for relapse even after a few years of sobriety. This is why ARCA rehabs assess each patient and their individual needs.

 Once you understand that addiction is a disease, you will be able to struggle less with substance abuse disorders. It is a chronic disorder and there is a risk of relapses and this is why anti-craving medication is so useful. The disease of addiction can be managed with the correct treatment and relapses can be prevented.

Contact ARCA Rehabs

 For more information about the treatment we offer, contact ARCA rehabs Jhb and Durban today for a free assessment and get your life back for good.

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