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1Drug AddictionRunning head: Drug AddictionSusan SadlerDrug AddictionBiopsychology
2Drug AddictionDrug Addiction“More than 40 million people in the United States, 16 percent of all Americans over age 12 suffer from nicotine, alcohol or drug addiction”. (Breaking free from addiction, 2013) Society’s reaction to drug abuse is to treat addiction as a choice the individual makes rather than a disease. Numerous studies have been conducted, indicating that while it may pacify society, the war on drugs has failed. Can research sow another way to look at the problem? Can we determine if genetics, environment or other elements contribute to the cause of addiction? If it could determine this we could provide more preventable measures against this disease. Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a dependency on a legal or illegal drug or medication. People neglect the fact that although alcohol and nicotine are legal substances, they are also considered drugs (Mayo Clinic, “Drug Addiction” 2014, para.1). Drug addiction is a rising dilemma in our era as more people feel the need to become dependent on these substances. People need to be educated on the understanding that addiction is a disease. Scientists began to study addictive behavior in the 1930s; people addicted to drugs were thought to be morally unsound and lacking self-control. This formed society’s reaction to drug abuse, treating it as a choice not a disease. In today’s world, scientists have changed their views on addiction. The findings about the brain have given scientists an understanding on addiction. The initial choices to try drugs are intentional for most people, but overtime the brain changes and a person’s self-control hinders their ability to resist impulses to use drugs. Addiction is well-defined as a prolonged, relapsing disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite detrimental consequences. Drugs stimulate the brain in
3Drug Addictionthe same way, thus causing addiction. Drugs contain different chemicals that interfere with communication in the brain; such as sending, receiving and processing information. Drugs, such as marijuana have similar chemicals as messengers in the brain which can fool the brain’s think pattern. Drugs similar to cocaine, release large amounts of natural neurotransmitters which avert normal recovering of brain chemicals. Drugs target the brain by flooding it with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls movement, emotions, and feelings of pleasure. At normal levels our brain recompenses our behaviors. When we overstimulate the brain it strongly supports the behavior teaching us to repeat it. Our brains are wired to repeat memorable activities; our brain notes this and teaches us to do it again.