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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Science Behind Addiction

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is a complex condition where a person cannot control their use of certain substances even though it harms their life. Alcohol, street drugs, and prescription opiates are the most common substances associated with addiction. There are treatments available to help a person break their addiction and get their life back on track.

What Causes Addiction?

People begin using substances that can cause addiction for several reasons. They might start using substances to feel good, become intoxicated, forget problems, improve performance, or out of curiosity. Substance use disorder negatively impacts a person’s life. It can affect their career, school, relationships, and health. In some cases, it can be life-threatening and lead to serious consequences.

Addiction is a complex disease and can have many underlying causes. One person might have several factors that contribute to their behavior. Genetic factors can contribute to the tendency to develop an addiction, but growing up in an environment with an addicted parent can also have an effect. Several factors place a person at greater risk for developing substance use disorder. These include an abusive or neglectful past, poverty, peer pressure, and aggressive behavior during childhood.

How is Substance Use Disorder Treated?

These are only a few of the factors that can contribute to substance abuse. It is easy for anyone to become a victim. Addiction is a complex condition and causes changes in the brain that make it difficult for a person to discontinue their behavior. Most people cannot overcome addiction using willpower and need to seek treatment to help them overcome their challenges.

For most, detox is an important first step in the process of overcoming addiction. During this process, the person receives assistance withdrawing from the substances as safely and comfortably as possible. Detox can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

Once the person has undergone the initial detox, they are usually admitted to traditional counseling or a 12-step program to help them learn new coping skills. This step will help them overcome any mental health conditions that present a complication to the addiction and to help them make permanent changes that will lead to a substance-free life. These programs provide a supportive environment where the person can learn to manage their circumstances and experience permanent change.

What is Medication-Assisted Therapy?

As more becomes known about the brain chemical and physical changes that accompany addiction, better therapies for treating them continue to emerge. Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is an approach that combines medications in combination with traditional counseling and behavioral therapies. This approach is highly successful in helping people overcome addiction and remain substance-free for a long time.

Medication-assisted therapy is used most often in opioid addiction, such as heroin and prescription pain relievers. The drugs block the euphoric effect of these substances and relieve the physical cravings for the drug. They also normalize body functions without the effects of the substance that the person uses.

This type of therapy has been demonstrated to be more effective than behavioral approaches alone. The medication and treatment program can be tailored to the individual’s needs. These medications have been shown to reduce the risk for relapse and are effective for pregnant women who are addicted.

MAT and Co-Occurring Disorders

A relationship exists between substance use disorders and the risk for a significant mental health disorder. The direction of the cause can be in either direction. A person with a mental health disorder might develop an addiction as a result, or an addicted person might develop a mental health condition. Treating those with co-occurring disorders can be complicated.

MAT can play an important role in helping those with co-occurring disorders overcome their challenges with substance use. However, some medications used for psychiatric conditions cannot be taken with those used in MAT.

If you or someone you love has a substance use problem that affects your life, you must seek help from a qualified professional. This is difficult, if not impossible, to overcome on your own. MAT is a safe and effective way to help overcome addiction and an option that you should ask about when you talk to a professional.

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