About 270 million people (or about 5.5 percent of the global population aged 15-64) had used psychoactive drugs in the previous year and about 35 million people are estimated to be affected by drug use disorders (harmful patterns of drug use or drug dependence). – W.H.O
There is no better time than now to discuss how this harmful and rising trend can be curbed.
Drug abuse and addiction are complex issues that affect individuals and communities worldwide. To comprehend these problems, it is essential to understand the underlying science behind them.
This article aims to provide a simplified overview of the science behind drug abuse and addiction, shedding light on the biological and psychological mechanisms involved.
The Brain and Reward System:
At the core of drug abuse and addiction lies the brain’s reward system. When a person takes drugs, they trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This flood of dopamine creates an intense feeling of euphoria, reinforcing the desire to repeat the experience.
Tolerance and Dependency:
With continued drug use, the brain adapts to the presence of the substance, leading to tolerance. Tolerance means that higher doses are required to achieve the same effect. Additionally, prolonged drug use can result in physical and psychological dependence, wherein the body and mind become reliant on the drug to function normally.
Neuroplasticity and Cravings:
The brain’s neuroplasticity plays a significant role in addiction. Long-term drug use can rewire the brain, altering its structure and function. These changes can lead to persistent cravings, even in the absence of the drug, making it challenging for individuals to quit or resist relapse.
Genetic and Environmental Factors:
While the brain’s biology plays a crucial role, addiction is not solely determined by genetics. Environmental factors, such as peer pressure, stress, trauma, and availability of drugs, can also influence the development of addiction.
As the world commemorates World Drug Day on June 26, it would take all of us to practice the theme; “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention.
Do you have any question or comment? Do share with us in the comment section.