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Yes, addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a chronic, relapsing neurological disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains addiction as a disease “that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication.” Drugs are chemicals that affect the body and brain. Different drugs can have different effects. Some effects of drugs include health consequences that are long-lasting and permanent. Substance use disorder is associated with a wide range of short- and long-term health effects. They can vary depending on the type of drug, how much and how often it is taken, and the individual’s general health. While the scientific reasoning behind why an individual develops an addiction remains unknown, there are certain risk factors (e.g., environmental risk factors, genetic risk factors, psychological risk factors, socioeconomic risk factors, etc.) that can increase an individual’s susceptibility to developing an addiction. 

How Addiction Affects The Brain

Substance abuse can change how certain areas of the brain function. The basal ganglia, sometimes referred to as the brain’s reward circuit, is an area in one’s brain that plays a role in cultivating motivation, the formation of routines and habits as well as appreciating the pleasurable effects of life. Drugs can over-activate this area, which is often experienced as a feeling of euphoria. With repeated exposures, neural pathways will form around the presence of the substance, which can reduce one’s sensitivity and make it more difficult to glean pleasure from anything other than the substance. The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is responsible for rational thinking, problem solving, planning, decision-making, and impulse control. An individual’s prefrontal cortex does not fully develop until age twenty-five, at the earliest. A person younger than twenty-five years old that struggles with substance abuse and/ or addiction lacks impulse control and will likely find him or herself compulsively on the pursuit to satisfy his or her drugs cravings. Habitual drug use can cause one’s amygdala to become increasingly sensitive. The amygdala is the area of the brain that perceives feelings of stress, anxiety, and irritability. When an individual begins to experience withdrawal as a substance leaves his or her body, in attempt to mitigate the uncomfortable symptoms he or she will experience drug cravings and be motivated to satisfy his or her craving. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.

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