In the past, people thought of addiction as a simple matter of someone lacking the moral character to do anything but chase a high. Today, addiction science makes it clear that addiction is much more complex and that there are many components to the condition.
The Main Components of Addiction
The Reward System
The foremost component of addiction is the neurological reward system. When something is slightly wrong with the reward system, it can make simple tasks seem impossibly difficult. On the other hand, many substances effectively hijack the reward system to create feelings of intense euphoria. When someone abuses substances, it interacts with the reward system in powerful ways to create the high that people initially look for. However, this high eventually fades and normal life becomes dreary and unbearable.
Dependence is closely related to tolerance, another key component of addiction. As a person becomes addicted to a substance, they start to suffer greater and greater ill effects. If they go a short time without using, their reward system will fail to function properly. Instead of using drugs to feel good, the role of the addictive substance is simply to make them feel normal.
As a person continues to abuse a substance, they develop a continually greater tolerance to it. While a small amount may have been enough to make them feel good at first, that same amount may have no effect once they’re a habitual user.
While many addicts would like to quit, withdrawals pose a serious obstacle to abstinence and getting clean. In as little as six hours after going without using, a person can experience a variety of severe side effects that can grow as severe as seizures. In many cases, withdrawals can pose a life-threatening risk if people don’t undergo them in a safe, controlled environment.
Even after a person makes it through withdrawals, the invisible marks of addiction remain and can often create an intense sense of hunger for the drug. While cravings do become weaker with time and eventually fade away to a much-reduced state, they’re a serious obstacle to getting well at first.
Loss of Control
If someone is unable to control their addiction and get help, they often reach a point of desperation where the drug becomes all that matters to them. Their social life, work, and family connections can suffer as their addiction drives them to do things that would be unthinkable if the addict were in their right mind.
Find Help with Dana Point Rehab
It can be hard to seek help, but it’s the first step to getting better. If you or someone you love needs help breaking the cycle of addiction, then you should reach out to us.