Drug Addiction Research Paper

Drug Addiction Research Paper

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, “addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around him or her” (Drug Facts, 2012). Codependency disorder and drug addiction often go hand in hand; they feed into each other’s obsessions and unhealthy behaviors. The brains of those afflicted exhibit similar flaws within the prefrontal cortices. There has been speculation as to whether or not addiction is a disease due to the addicts’ initial decision to abuse the substance. This paper aims to explore the inner workings of a drug addict’s brain in terms of disease analysis and the similarities with codependency disorder. This paper will examine, in detail, the structural effects of addiction. Drug Addiction Research Paper

Addiction as a whole is an epidemic which has grown rapidly in recent years: 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs (HBO, USA Today, The Gallup Poll, 2006). Approximately 46 Americans per day died from drug overdoses in 2010 (Jones, 2013). Addiction in its many forms is a habitual and debilitating disease which affects not only the addict but the loved ones around them. There is no solid answer as to why an addict is an addict nor pertaining to the selection of who becomes addicted and who does not, however, scientists are making profound advancements. The vast majority of medical practitioners acknowledge that addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease and that there are various forms of addiction outside of substance abuse including codependency disorder. Scientists now understand that addiction is a result of key changes in the brain. Drug Addiction Research Paper


A disease is a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury. A chronic disease is one lasting 3 months or more, by the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics. Chronic diseases generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication, nor do they just disappear. Neuroscientist Marc Lewis, as well as many others, assert that addiction falls into neither category. He believes that the changes exhibited in an addict’s brain are due to learning and adapting which means that their addiction is a choice. His theory entails habit as its cure. He believes that by breaking the habit of addiction that you will no longer be afflicted. This theory exists in strong opposition to the widely spread belief originating in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous alike that once you are an addict you will always be an addict.

Addiction is a disease that has plagued the nation for years. Many questions have remained unanswered regarding why an addict is an addict, how an addict becomes addicted, and what the most viable treatment is. Drug Addiction Research Paper Addiction is a devastating and debilitating disease. According to HBO’s Addiction Project “Brain imaging shows that addiction severely alters brain areas critical to decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control, which may help to explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction”. The brain is made up of multiple delicate systems which are necessary for functionality and life-sustainability. Drug use disrupts these complex but well-balanced systems of the human brain. Various neurological circuits are affected by prolonged substance abuse. Specifically, drug abuse affects three main systems within the brain: the brain stem, the cerebral cortex, and the limbic system. Fundamental functionality can be severely altered by excessive use and can even prove to be irreversible.

The area of the brain that controls emotions and pleasure is called the “dopamine pathway”. When an addict uses the receptors are flooded with dopamine repeatedly. Over time, their brains are unable to function properly to produce and maintain a natural level of dopamine. The brain system responsible for such interactions is called the mesolimbic dopamine system. Drug Addiction Research Paper In a healthy person’s brain, the system aids in our ability to make decisions while in an addict’s brain the circuitry is flawed. This explains the inability for an addict to discontinue use even after seemingly reaching rock bottom. When a person touch’s a hot stove the brain receives a message of pain that signals the person not to repeat the action. In an addict’s brain, this system cannot properly interpret such a signal. Brain imaging shows that the signals that lead to an addict’s craving may be incredibly subtle and quick. When that trigger surfaces, the brain’s ability to identify what’s what is not present. Causes of this dysfunction are not definitive but may include genes, mental illness, early use of drugs, and childhood trauma. Drug Addiction Research Paper