What Is Addiction And How Does It Affect The Brain?
Addiction, whether it be to alcohol use or drug use, affects your brain by changing the way it functions, to the extent that it makes your brain dependent on the substance in question. Lots of people think they are in control of the substance, and they start and continue using it because they like the effect that it has. Very soon however your tolerance for the substance increases, and after a period, you cannot function without it. By increasing your tolerance, you will need greater amounts of the drug or alcohol in order to achieve the same feeling of euphoria, happiness or control.
When people abuse drugs and alcohol it changes the way you think and the way that you behave. Often alcohol and drug abuse may lead you to do things that you would not ordinarily do. Very soon, your behaviour may be out of your control.
What risk factors are likely to predispose you to addiction or addictive behaviours?
Some people appear to be at elevated risk of addictive behaviours. Some of the factors that may contribute to this include
Your family history plays a role in how you might respond to addictive substances. While men and women are both statistically likely to be addicted the same, if you have a family history of alcohol abuse, you will be more likely to experience it yourself.
Your Mental Health
People who are depressed, highly anxious or have difficulties with concentration are more likely to turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism for their mental health. People who have a history of traumas are also more likely to fall into addictive cycles and substances. 17.7% of people who have substance problems also have anxiety disorders.
Individuals who do not have close family bonds or relationships are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol.
Effects Of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol is legal but it can still be addictive. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to poor health, disease and death. It is also responsible for a broad base of social problems. Ultimately the effects of alcohol use are far-reaching and include
Health And Physical Problems
Alcohol is addictive and debilitating to major organs and your general state of health. Alcohol also encourages people to engage in risky behaviours that they wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Mental Health Problems
Alcohol use affects your mood and personality. It also affects mood and concentration.
Alcohol abuse creates and compounds family problems, resulting in overspending, violence and triangulations of family dynamics.
Alcohol abuse is costly and unaffordable for most people. Because it causes problems with work and careers, it has a domino effect on finances. Additionally, alcohol abuse is responsible for workplace injuries and neglect.
How Does Drug Use Affect Your Brain?
Drug abuse results in a release of dopamine in your brain. It’s a feel-good neurotransmitter that gives you pleasure, and ultimately your brain wants to repeat the exercise so it encourages you to do it again. Some of the effects that drugs have on your brain include
- Affecting your decision-making ability
- Affecting your memory and concentration
- Interfering with your brain’s ability to learn
- Interfering with your judgement
What Are The Effects Of Drugs And Alcohol?
Addiction to drugs and alcohol changes your behaviour. Drug abuse may result in
- Feelings of crankiness if you are unable to get the substance you are addicted to
- Lying or stealing in order to have access to the substance
- Financial problems because you are purchasing something you can’t afford
- Withdrawal and isolation from friends and family
- You no longer take care of yourself
- You engage in high risk behaviours as a result of the drug use or alcohol
- You argue with or cut yourself off from people who are critical of your substance use
- Unpleasant come-down experiences which may affect your mood and physical state, resulting in sweating, vomiting, irritability
Different drugs produce different physical effects but drug abuse may cause
- Fertility problems
- Altered states of perception
- Mental health problems including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety and paranoia
- Problems with the heart and vascular system
- Dehydration, sweating, vomiting
- Increases your susceptibility to high risk behaviours such as unsafe sex, sharing of needles
- Appetite and weight loss.
How Are Substance Abuses Treated?
There is no cure for drug and alcohol addiction and treatment usually depends on the substance in question. Sometimes medications can help to manage the side effects of withdrawal and are often accompanied by therapy and counselling for yourself and close family members who are affected.
If you are concerned about the effects of drugs and alcohol on yourself or your family it is never too late to seek help. Please contact us or someone you can trust for assistance as soon as possible: (02) 9884 9300