White Oval Medication Pill Beside Blister Pack
White Oval Medication Pill Beside Blister Pack

We’re talking specifically about addiction and what’s going on inside the body and particularly the brain of someone who’s addicted. So there’s this initial exposure to the substance and typically the person experiences that initial exposure in a particularly compelling euphoria or a sense of well-being and that initial exposure is a big drive to repeat the exposure, the second phase of addiction in which an individual gradually uses the substance more and more frequently and the third stage of addiction which we know of as the true addiction because not only is there that compulsive daily use but there are a host of negative consequences for the person in their personal, medical, legal and vocational spheres of life and the person persists in this daily use despite all of those terrible negative consequences.

Several things i wish the public generally understood about addiction first is it’s a brain disease and it’s not a moral weakness, it’s a chronic relapsing brain disease, the individual susceptibility to this addiction has combined with the presence of the drug in the brain to change the way that the brain is wired and this constrains sharply the choices that person makes so it’s no longer possible for that person without a lot of help to just say no.

We have addictions that involve substances like alcohol and drugs and we also have things like gambling, persistent eating disorder etc I was once asked if all these types of addictive behaviors affect the brain in the same local area or if it is a desperate set of areas in the brain that are impacted by this ecosystem we call addiction, well there is a central major reward pathway in the brain…this pathway involves a group of neurons deep in the center of the brain and these neurons that use the neurotransmitter dopamine connect to an area in the midbrain and they connect to the frontal cortex. This pathway is activated by all kinds of drugs abuse in fact many neuroscientists believe that it’s this same reward pathway that is activated or must be activated to experience pleasure so this reward pathway is also activated when we eat our favorite food or when we see something on the screen that’s very entertaining so this pathway is activated not only by these natural rewards but also by these “unnatural rewards”.

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