The awareness of addictions is growing at an alarming rate in the United States. Many health care professionals are working overtime in treating people with disabling addictions. But within the mental health care profession, many are divided as to the arising issue and cause of addiction.
Deaths caused by drug overdoses have risen drastically over the pass decade. Many health care and drug treatment professionals are working overtime in treating people with disabling addictions. Within the mental health care profession, many are divided as to the arising issue and cause of addiction. It is possible that an individual may be genetically susceptible to addiction; but it does not mean it is inevitable. While there is evidence that addiction can follow genetic paths in families, even where there is no interactions between generations of addicts, a person’s environment can have just as much of an influence on their addiction and behavior.
Current research has found alarming relationships between both addiction and genetics, and addiction and environmental influences. Once a person begins using drugs, there are dramatic changes in brain chemistry and physiology, strengthening the cycle of addiction (White, 2002). As the cycle strengthens, the behavior affects the brain more. This is an extreme situation where free will and decision making are severely affected (White, 2002).
Examples of environmental influences include access to education, income levels and crime rates. These can all affect both when the addict begins using and the severity of usage. Although all of these can affect usage, no one area can specifically be blamed as the cause. For example, drug usage is not discriminative between users such as those in rural versus urban areas. This lies merely in the area’s drug of choice and the accessibility of drugs in these areas. These risk factors can be very difficult to isolate (NIDA InfoFacts, 2008) due to the fact that addicts do their best to hide their addictions; particualary to family, friends, and co-workers.
Connecting natural rewards to drug addiction can explain how addiction overtakes the brain and affects an individual’s ability to perform basic tasks, such as eating and sleeping. Indeed, a recurring theme in modern addiction research is the extent to which neuroadaptations responsible for various aspects of the addiction process are similar to those responsible for other forms of neural plasticity studied in cellular models of learning, such as long term potentiation and long term depression. [ (White, 2002) ]
We must understand that drugs do not replace components in the brain, but only alter them. If the brain’s natural state could be replaced with addiction, the addiction must be an inherent part of the brain’s infrastructure; thus showing evidence that addiction has genetic pathways, or that the addiction at least uses them. But drug addiction is a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. However, when the addict has a genetic pre-disposition, environmental factors will have more of an influence than if the individual had no genetic pre-disposition. Some will argue that one only becomes an addict by learning the behavior and does not posses a genetic pre-disposition. But those who are predisposed may show evidence of it through other types of behavior. For example, they may find it harder to refrain from watching too much television or may find it harder to break a bad habit. Although this cannot in itself be a determining factor of genetic pre-disposition, it may be an indication of it. How It Begins
Addiction is not rigid, but continually changing. As a person’s addiction develops, it becomes their way of life. And as it does, it inflicts changes on the people suffering from their addiction. There are three states of addiction and the addictive lifestyle: internal change, lifestyle change, and life breakdown. The first stage...
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