In 2018, the United States reported an estimated 70,000 deaths from illicit and prescription drug overdoses. It took medical science decades to understand some basic facts about addiction, and there is more they still have to learn. They do know that addiction is a disease, and that conclusion is based on chemistry — brain chemistry to be specific.
Why Does the Chemistry of Addiction Matter?
The stigma attached to addiction can keep some people from getting the help they need. They may fear judgment from their friends, families, or coworkers. Through addiction awareness and education, we are able to show these individuals that there is a direct correlation between changes in the brain and drug use. Helping them understand the nature of addiction means less judgment and more understanding of the illness.
What Is Addiction?
Put simply, drug and alcohol addiction is a chronic and relapsing disorder that involves compulsive drug seeking despite the bad things that might happen because of it. People with addiction have many the same problems as those with other illnesses. Heart disease, for example, disrupts the functioning of the heart. Addiction disrupts the functioning of the brain on a chemical level.
The Chemistry of Addiction
The brain’s reward center releases chemicals like dopamine that make you feel good when you do something it perceives as good for you. That is why you feel good after you exercise.
Drugs can interfere with that process either by triggering the release of the same brain chemicals or by mimicking them, so you get that feeling of ecstasy. Over time, the brain starts to hold back these feel-good chemicals, so you only get them when you use a substance. If you don’t use it, it creates cravings that make you want the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are signs that the brain chemistry is out of balance — this is the detox period.
Of course, the problem extends beyond just chemistry. There are many factors involved in addiction, including:
- Mental health
- Personal experiences
- Family and environmental influences
- Accessibility to drugs or alcohol
- Age of first use
All these factors are part of the overall equation that can influence the chemistry of addiction. No matter what the risk factors, though, treatment is necessary.
Contact San Antonio Recovery Center
The San Antonio Recovery Center provides treatment based on the 12-step philosophy for recovery. We offer an affordable program with a full spectrum of treatment, including:
For most people, a comprehensive treatment plan will start with detox. During this time, the brain tries to adjust to life without the chemical substance it is dependent on, and that leads to withdrawal. The San Antonio Recovery Center detox allows you to work with medical professionals that can help to ease some of the harshest withdrawal symptoms and help keep you comfortable until you can move on to your primary treatment completely sober.
There is also a state-of-the-art residential facility in San Antonio. Residential care is a live-in environment that allows you to be with other people going through the same challenges as you. The goal is to create a plan for you that will help to correct the addictive behavior patterns to encourage long-term sobriety while remaining affordable. SARC has staff available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
There is little doubt that chemistry is at the heart of drug addiction, but it is more complex than that, which is why it is better to work with treatment professionals like SARC.