Incarceration vs. Treatment

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Kimberly Lombardi
Professor Ford
English Comp 1- Spring 2012, E84
Research Paper
16 April 2012
The Path of Addiction
Abstract:
What exactly is addiction and why do people struggle so much with it? The cause of drug addiction is debated among many people. There is no single cause. Addiction is serious. It should not be taken lightly. Many people are addicts or at least know someone who is or may be an addict. I believe addicts themselves and the people who care about them should be more educated about what addiction really is. What are the risk factors, the symptoms, the withdrawal symptoms and treatment options? I have answered these questions in hopes of helping other addicts.

Drug addiction is considered a progressive disease that if left untreated can result in death. When we become addicted we have lost control of the desire and need for the substance. This loss of control causes us to become consumed by the desire and the need for the substance. Addiction produces changes in the brain that cause our behavior to change. This change in behavior is what leads to the loss of control. “This is not something that develops overnight for any individual. Generally there is a series of steps that individuals go through from experimentation and occasional use to the actual loss of control.” (HBO). The progression of this disease has no specific time frame. It differs from person to person. Regardless of time, addiction follows the same path. We become addicted, our disease progresses, and either we get help and recover or we take one of the following options: jail, institution, or death.

Drug addiction affects many people; men and women of all ages, races and backgrounds. Statistics show drug addiction to be two to three times higher in men than in women and highest among ages 15 to 24 (Handforth). The cause of drug addiction is different in every individual. There are certain risk factors that can predispose a person to becoming addicted to drugs. Genetics play a part when determining if addiction is present. If we come from a family with a history of substance abuse it is likely that we will inherit the disease. The environment we come from can also have an impact on whether or not we become addicts. Our surroundings all have influenced us. Abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences could all increase our risk for developing addiction. When these things happen and are not dealt with in the correct way we can sometimes turn to drugs to take the emotional pain away. A risk factor could also be psychological. If any of us have disorders such as depression and anxiety we sometimes self-medicate with illegal drugs. Then become addicted to the drugs. Drug addiction has no single cause. There are many factors, other than the ones mentioned, that contribute to whether or not we become an addict.

There are two different aspects that make up addiction. First is the physical addiction and the second is the psychological addiction. Physical addiction, also known as physical dependence, happens within the body and psychological addiction happens within the brain. Drugs such as cocaine do not cause a physical addiction; however, drugs such as heroin cause major physical and psychological addiction. Some individuals think physical addiction is the worst type, but research shows that psychological addiction can be just as serious. James Handforth of EzineArticels writes, “Cocaine, for example, does not cause physical dependence--but it is considered one of the easiest drugs to get hooked on and one of the hardest to give up.” It does not matter whether a drug is physically addictive, psychologically addictive or both. Addiction is a serious illness that should be treated as soon as possible.

Physical dependence occurs when we consume a substance on a regular, daily basis. The body gets accustomed to having the drug in its system. When we are physically addicted the body builds a tolerance to the drug, which...
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