Neurobiology and Addiction

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Neurobiology and Addiction
Drug and alcohol addiction is a huge problem that Americans have been battling to solve for many decades. Although this issue is hidden and ignored, it is a growing prevalent issue that needs to be addressed immediately. In August 2002, Harvard school of public health conducted a study on “Americans views of the seriousness of health problems”. Out of the 36 problems noted, the number one problem with 82 percent of the public vote was drug abuse. In our current society many have come to accept the fact that a solution to this addiction will never be found. Others seem to think addiction is not a disease and is purely controlled by a person’s willingness to stop or continue using. There was stigma behind society’s view of people suffering from addiction. They were seen as morally failing compared to the rest of the world. This belief is completely incorrect and it is now proven that addiction is a serious pathological disorder. Research shows that repeated abuse of a substance causes behavioral changes and the connections a person’s brain makes to change. There is evidence that these changes can be both structural and functional. The emergence of neuroscience over the past couple of decades has changed the way we view addiction and has paved the way for new ways of treatment and prevention. Neuroscience is integrating two different approaches (i.e. the behavioral approach and a biological approach) to try to defeat an underlying problem affecting millions of Americans today. This combined strategy will help shed light on why humans become addicted to such harmful substances and how neuroscience can create effective treatments for addiction. There is huge controversy over whether this changing approach is beneficial to the fight against addiction or not. So while society be encouraging the advancement being made in the medical field about how neuroscience will improve addiction treatment, we must also be aware of how research can affect the way people think about and oversimplify matters that require greater depth and commitment.

To understand why the search for addiction treatment is so important, we must first understand how big of a negative impact addictions cause our society. The CEO and founder of the addiction hotline “Treatment Centers”, Bernard Grohsman touches on the effects of addiction on a society. Addicts are unproductive members of a community because they are inefficient and unreliable. As a result this denies them an opportunity to hold a steady job which means they are not giving back to the society. If they are unable to provide for themselves or their family, this causes stress within the family because the inability to rely and depend on this family member either financially or emotionally makes the family more likely to have serious issues. Also there is a direct relationship between heavy drug and alcohol use and increased crime rates. Since the abuse of any drug impairs a person’s judgment, addicts will make poor choices to feed their starving addiction. Last, there are huge medical expenses to treating overdoses and other addiction related medical emergencies or diseases. An example of this is a common disease with heroin and meth users is the spread of HIV and other blood infections through sharing infected needles. According to the NIDA, the cost of drug and alcohol addiction in the year 2009 was over 181 billion for just illegal drugs and another 185 billion for alcohol alone. Addiction also has catastrophic effects on the individual and his family and friends. The relationships an addict has are balancing on a thin line which breaks sooner or later because of the dependence on the specific substance. Friends and family are forgotten in an addicts mind and the only thing that becomes important is getting that “next fix”. Because of this attitude friends and family fade away and soon these loved ones leave as well because they realize that the relationship...
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