SEX, drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, even hoarding and work - Can all of these things cause addiction? What is addiction, and why are some people more prone to it while others are not? It's long been accepted that people can become addicted to drugs and alcohol but what about the newer addiction theories regarding sex addiction, food addiction, and gambling addiction - are these truly addictions? As a society what is the best way to handle people with addictions whom need help or commit crimes? In this paper I will answer these questions and address other interesting aspects of addiction.
Most of the American population regularly uses drugs if you consider that nicotine and caffeine are mildly psychoactive. Psychoactive drugs directly influence brain activity (How Psychoactive Drugs Affect the Brain, 2011). A psychoactive drug is a substance that is capable of altering attention, memory, judgment, time sense, self-control, mood, or perception for all of these a drug ...view middle of the document...
Drug abuse can stem from simple curiosity to desiring to be a part of a group of people. A large portion of drug abuse starts as a way to cope with life. All of the frequently abused drugs produce fast “feel good” results. The negative results usually are followed much later after long term drug use (Higgins et al., 2004). Although drug use often becomes compulsive for the feel good effect, many people who have quit their drug using life say it was because the harmful results began to surpass the wanted result (Toneatto, 1999).
The activity of the brain cells on psychoactive drugs is drastically different. Typically drugs imitate or alter the effects of neurotransmitters, the chemicals the carry messages between brain cells (Inaba. 2010). Some drugs cause more neurotransmitters to be released which increases the activity in the brain cells. Other drugs slow the removal of neurotransmitters after they are released. The prolonging effect of transmitter chemicals is usually stimulating. Another possibility is illustrated by alcohol and tranquilizers. This type of drugs affect certain types of brain cells cause relaxation and relieve stress. Other possibilities also exist which is why drug use can have a wide variety of results (Julien, 2010).
Many drugs effect the brains reward pathway circuitry producing a feeling of pleasure (Inaba, 2010). Drugs particularly stimulate a region of the brain called the nucleus accumbens to release the neurotransmitter dopamine which increase the feeling of pleasure. Dopamine is usually released during actions that are important to our survival, such as eating food or having sex. Drugs induce false sense of reward similar to the pleasure of the actions above. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addictive drugs fool the brain’s reward pathway. As a result, the reward pathway signals that “feels good, let’s do it again. Let’s remember this exactly how we did it last time.” This creates a compulsion to repeat the same action. In other words, the chemicals act as a hook that eventually leads somebody to addiction. Adolescents are especially susceptible to addiction because the brain system is retrain their risk taking are no as mature as those that reward pleasure seeking (Chambers, 2003).