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What is an addict?

An addict is a person who continuously partakes in a negative activity or behavior despite its devastating consequences. They do not see past their immediate gratification and will do anything to achieve it. Addiction is a complex disease that takes control over its victims both physically and mentally. The actual moment of when a person becomes an addict has yet to become an exact science but research has been able to hone in on how addictions are formed.

How does someone get addicted?

The first time someone abuses drugs they usually experience an unnatural and intense pleasure or “high”. This activates the neurotransmitters or reward system within the brain quickly sending out a rush of dopamine, the chemical that is responsible for our feelings of pleasure.

Each person has very different genetic makeup and come from their own unique environments that play a vital role in the way drugs can affect them and how quick they will become addicted. As a result of abusing drugs the brain begins to change the way the neurotransmitters create dopamine. With the sudden increase in dopamine levels neurons begin reducing the number of dopamine receptors within the brain.

By making less dopamine the brain begins what scientists call “down regulation”. This leaves abusers feeling lifeless and depressed which are often noted to be signs of drug withdrawal. To counter this drug abusers will begin to use drugs more frequently to bring their dopamine levels back up. They will also begin using large dosages to experience that flood of pleasure or “high.” This effect is called tolerance.

The cycle of addiction

Some users enter the cycle of addiction on their first use while others begin their path of addiction after continuous abuse. These factors can only be determined by an addict’s genes and environment. Although, we may not know the exact time when addiction begins or even how fast they will become addicted, we do know that when abusing drugs everyone runs the risk of becoming an addict.

Source: NIDA

How long does it take someone to become an addict?
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