What Is It About Substances That Make Them Addictive?

Many individuals are baffled as to why or how others develop substance addiction. People who aren’t using substances may believe that substance users are morally deficient. They may also think that those who do consume them lack discipline. Addiction to substances is an illness with many facets, and overcoming it requires more than just positive motives or sheer willpower. Even for individuals who wish to stop using substances, the psychological consequences make it difficult. Fortunately, experts now understand how substances influence the psyche, and they’ve developed therapies that can help patients overcome their addictions and enjoy fulfilling lives.

What Exactly Is Substance Dependence?

Addiction is a long-term illness defined by obsessive or difficult-to-control substance intake and use, regardless of the adverse effects. Most individuals choose to use substances voluntarily at first. Still, frequent substance use can alter brain chemistry, making it difficult for someone with an addiction to maintain self-control and fight intense cravings. Substance abuse is regarded as a “relapsing” condition because individuals in treatment from substance dependence are at higher risk of falling off the wagon even after years of abstaining from consumption. These neurological alterations can be lasting.

What Makes Substances So Dangerous?

Knowing why substances are so addictive necessitates knowledge of the psyche and how substances alter it.

There is a release of dopamine by receptors in the brain that detect satisfaction. The brain produces dopamine in response to a pleasurable event, such as a happy dinner or an enjoyable conversation. The introduction of substances into the body stimulates the release of this naturally occurring chemical.

This is the crux of the physiological problem. The brain becomes increasingly reliant on more significant amounts of dopamine as substance use increases. As a result, the person experiences less of a “high” or initial impact. This leads to the brain becoming tolerant of the dopamine stimulus and desiring more of it. To maintain a relatively similar “high,” it will need more of the substance. At this point, substance abuse has progressed to the point of dependency.

substance abuse

Why Do Some Experience Substance Addiction and Others Don’t?

There is no single element that can determine whether an individual will become substance dependent. A variety of variables influences addiction probability. The more an individual has risk characteristics, the higher the likelihood that substance use will result in addiction. For instance:

  • Development. A person’s genetics and surroundings influence addiction risk at crucial developmental periods in their lives. Even while using substances may result in addiction at any time, the younger you start, the more likely you’ll get addicted. Teenagers have a tough time with this. During the formative years of their lives, teenagers’ brains are still growing, making them more susceptible to hazardous actions such as substance use.
  • Environment. A person’s environment comprises various factors, such as friends and family, economic position, and overall well-being. A person’s propensity to abuse substances and become addicted can be influenced significantly by various factors, including inappropriate parental guidance, stress, early introduction to narcotics, sexual and physical abuse, and peer pressure.
  • Biology. Genetics determines approximately half of an individual’s addiction risk. Factors such as ethnicity, gender, and other mental health issues influence substance use and addiction risk.

Is It Possible to Prevent or Cure Substance Addiction? 

Substance addiction is not curative like almost other chronic conditions, including heart disease, asthma, and diabetes. Addiction, on the other hand, is treatable and manageable. For years, if not their entire existence, those recuperating from addictive behavior are in danger of relapsing. According to several studies, individuals are most likely to succeed when substance rehabilitation medications are used with behavioral therapy. People with co-occurring social, mental, and medical difficulties may benefit from therapeutic techniques customized to their individual substance consumption histories.

Additionally, people can avoid substance abuse and addiction. As supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there is evidence that preventive programs, including media, communities, schools, and families, help prevent or reduce substance use and dependence. Even though events in people’s lives and societal influences shape substance use patterns, studies show that when younger folks see substances as dangerous, they are less likely to use them. As a result, spreading awareness about the dangers of substance use requires extensive outreach programs.

Does Addiction Occur with All Substances?

A rush of dopamine is released into the bloodstream when a substance hits the pleasure and reward region. As a result, because all medicines similarly impact the brain, they are all addictive in this fashion.

Whenever anyone uses substances repeatedly to achieve the same pleasure as the first session, the brain begins to react by becoming dependent on the presence of too much dopamine. As a result, it generates lesser natural dopamine, which lowers the number of dopamine receptors in the brain.