What addiction does to you?

Addiction involves an intense desire for something, the loss of control over its use, and continued participation in it despite adverse consequences. Your brain is ready for you to want to repeat experiences that make you feel good. So you're motivated to do them over and over again. It has a lot to do with brain chemistry.

The human brain is prepared to reward us when we do something pleasurable. Exercise, diet and other behaviors that are directly related to our survival cause the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Substance use disorders are the result of changes in the brain that can occur with repeated use of alcohol or drugs. The most serious expression of the disorder, addiction, is associated with changes in the function of the brain circuits involved in pleasure (the reward system), learning, stress, decision-making and self-control.

Addiction tends to be inherited, and certain types of genes are stretches of DNA, a substance inherited from parents, which define characteristics such as the risk of suffering from certain disorders, such as addiction. They have demonstrated that addiction is a complex and long-term brain disease, and that current treatments can help people control their addictions. Rather, the addiction syndrome model suggests that there is an addiction that is associated with multiple expressions. The biological basis of addiction helps explain why people need much more than good intentions or willpower to end their addictions.

Not everyone who uses substances becomes addicted to this process, but if you're already at risk, this is where the addiction cycle can begin. These 13 principles of effective drug addiction treatment were developed based on three decades of scientific research. But it's important to remember that addiction has always been a disease, even when our health care systems were very hostile to the idea, and even when the people that American culture primarily associated with drugs and addiction were black or Latin American people. While treatment modalities differ depending on a person's history and the particular addiction they've developed, medications can make a difference.

Addiction is highly treatable, but that treatment must be based on evidence and best scientific practices.