To an outsider the behavior of an addict is completely irrational. Alcohol or drugs is obviously destroying their life yet they continue to engage in this activity. Even when the substance abuse is pulling the individual towards an early grave, or causing problems for loved ones, they persist with it. Those who have never been dependent on an addictive substance will see this behavior as highly irrational. This individual is not willfully doing something to cause harm to themselves or other people.
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Drug Abuse as a Brain Disorder
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Yes, it feels like slavery. Addiction literally changes the brain by destroying the way that it registers pleasure, and in the process, other drives like learning and motivation are corrupted. It chooses us. Oh, the doom! Once-upon-a-time, researchers believed that addiction was something that only afflicted folks who were morally flawed — sigh. Recovery from addiction does involve a certain amount of willpower, but as any legitimate addict will tell you, willpower alone will not cut it. Again, addicts are not derelicts. The brain of an addict is incredibly complex.
Inside the Mind of an Addict
Brain power Psychiatry turns to neuroscience. Positive charge New technology to treat depression. Autism answers Parents run experiments to see what works. Sleuth of the mind A conversation with Oliver Sacks. Neuroscience of need Understanding the addicted mind. Hit record Conducting field research — literally — to explain concussions. Transition point The unmet medical needs of transgender people. It hurts!
If someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can be very difficult to understand their condition. The results of this impact on the brain make it difficult for those affected to think rationally or even understand they need treatment. Research has shown that addiction is a brain disorder, and compulsive substance abuse is one of its characteristics.