Drug Addiction Is a Brain Disease

Drug addiction starts when one decides to use drugs. It does not start out with the person hoping to become an addict. As one uses a substance over time, his or her control over its use significantly decreases. The person who is a voluntary user at first can eventually become a compulsive substance abuser, an addict.

From voluntary use to addiction

More and more studies are suggesting that the change from voluntary use of drugs to addiction occurs through a mixture of processes that include a series of neuroadaptations or brain changes resulting from frequent drug exposure. Many experts propose that this change in brain structure and brain function can be considered as a brain disease. It is a biobehavioral disorder, which is expressed as compulsive behavior.

Dealing with drug addiction

The biobehavioral view that drug addiction is a brain disease tells us something about how to deal with the addiction and those who are hooked on drugs. The fact that it is biobehavioral disorder does not mean that the patients are hapless victims with no responsibilities.

As mentioned, addiction starts with one’s decision to use drugs, and he or she must actively participate in the treatment to make it work. However, we must rise above the moral indignation that drug addicts became ill because of their behavior and deal with the disease once it is there.

Treatments for drug addiction

That drug addiction is considered a brain disease explains why most addicts cannot just stop their destructive behavior and why they need treatment. Drug addicts suffer from a different brain state. Since it is a complex brain disorder whose expression and development heavily depend on social context, drug addiction treatment has many various components.

Drug use reduction is not the only target outcome; instead, treatment should be focused in restoring the patient to full functioning at work, in his or her family, and in society in general.

Strategies in dealing with criminal offender drug addicts

Using the biobehavioral view of drug addiction also helps in coming up with effective strategies in dealing with criminal offender drug addicts. That these people have this brain disorder partly explains why untreated offenders have high post-incarceration rates of recidivism to drug use as well as criminality. If the illness remains untreated, it will take over the person as soon as he or she is released back into his or her community.


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