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-Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (alcohol

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cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (gambling) that can be pleasurable but
the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life
responsibilities, such as work or relationships, or health. Users may not be aware
that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and
others. The word addiction is used in several different ways. One definition
describes physical addiction. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to
the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect; this is known as
tolerance. Because of tolerance, there is a biological reaction when the drug is
withdrawn. Another form of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction
by the brain to drugs (or to cues associated with the drugs). An alcoholic walking
into a bar, for instance, will feel an extra pull to have a drink because of these cues.
However, most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or
exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always
in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical
addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or
brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions
from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug
behavior. The focus of the addiction isn't what matters; it's the need to take action
under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an
understanding of how it works psychologically. When referring to any kind of
addiction, it is important to recognize that its cause is not simply a search for
pleasure and that addiction has nothing to do with one's morality or strength of
character. Experts debate whether addiction is a "disease" or a true mental illness,
whether drug dependence and addiction mean the same thing, and many other
aspects of addiction. Such debates are not likely to be resolved soon. But the lack
of resolution does not preclude effective treatment. Many people do not understand
why people become addicted to drugs or how drugs change the brain to foster
compulsive drug abuse. They mistakenly view drug abuse and addiction as strictly
a social problem and may characterize those who take drugs as morally weak. One
very common belief is that drug abusers should be able to just stop taking drugs if
they are only willing to change their behavior. What people often underestimate is
the complexity of drug addiction -- that it is a disease that impacts the brain, and
because of that, stopping drug abuse is not simply a matter of willpower. Through
scientific advances we now know much more about how exactly drugs work in the
brain, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help
people stop abusing drugs and resume productive lives.
-Drug addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive
drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the drug addict and those

and/or overstimulating the "reward circuit" of the brain. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medications. Although it is true that for most people the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary. over time the changes in the brain caused by repeated drug abuse can affect a person's self-control and ability to make sound decisions. . with behavioral therapy is the best way to ensure success for most patients. Drug addiction is a brain disease because the abuse of drugs leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain. it indicates that treatment should be reinstated or adjusted. psychiatric.around them. and at the same time create an intense impulse to take drugs. drug addiction can be managed effectively. such as marijuana and heroin. Relapse does not signal failure. there are treatments that help people to counteract addiction's powerful disruptive effects and regain control. and process information. if available. There are at least two ways that drugs are able to do this: by imitating the brain's natural chemical messengers. asthma. have a similar structure to chemical messengers. Treatment approaches that are tailored to each patient's drug abuse patterns and any concurrent medical. receive. Some drugs. Because of this similarity. called neurotransmitters. these drugs are able to "fool" the brain's receptors and activate nerve cells to send abnormal messages. rather. What Happens to Your Brain When You Take Drugs? Drugs are chemicals that tap into the brain's communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send. It is because of these changes in the brain that it is so challenging for a person who is addicted to stop abusing drugs. such as diabetes. Fortunately. or that alternate treatment is needed to help the person regain control and recover. and social problems can lead to sustained recovery and a life without drugs. or heart disease. which are naturally produced by the brain. it is not uncommon for a person to relapse and begin abusing drugs again. As with other chronic diseases.Yet.