WHAT IS DRUG ADDICTION?
Drug addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the drug addict and those around them. Drug addiction is a brain disease because the abuse of drugs leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain.
WHY DO PEOPLE TAKE DRUGS?
• To feel good
• To feel better
• To do better
• Curiosity and “because others are doing it.”
IF TAKING DRUGS MAKES PEOPLE FEEL GOOD OR BETTER, WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
When they first use a drug, people may perceive what seem to be positive effects, and believe they can control future usage. But drugs can quickly take over a person’s life…becoming a necessity for the user just to feel ‘normal.’
IS CONTINUED DRUG ABUSE A VOLUNTARY BEHAVIOR?
The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary. However, with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired; this impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction. Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control.
WHAT BIOLOGICAL FACTORS INCREASE THE RISK OF ADDICTION?
Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction.
Drug Abuse and Addiction Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention Facts
National Drug Intelligence Center. The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, 2011.
Rehm J, Mathers C, Popova S, Thavorncharoensap M, Teerawattananon Y, Patra J. Global burden of disease and injury and economic cost attributable to alcohol use and alcohol-use disorders. Lancet 373(9682):2223-2233, 2009.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs — 2014. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). Atlanta, GA: CDC.