Drug and alcohol addiction is a complex disorder that affects millions of people in different parts of the country. Although most people consider addiction a behavioral problem, it is a chronic disease that alters brain functions and structure. Therefore, besides influencing the addict, it affects perception, behavior, and emotional state. This piece sheds light on the mind of addiction and the appropriate intervention.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a common chronic disease associated with the inability to stop using a drug or substance, despite having harmful physical and social effects. Addiction usually causes long-term changes in the brain, which alters how the affected person feels, thinks, and behaves. Unfortunately, it is hard to identify addicts because they typically hide their dependence on alcohol or drug. However, close friends and family members might quickly notice the early stages of addiction.

What Is the Relationship Between Mental Health and Addiction?

People with addiction problems often have other mental health problems, which worsens the situation. Co-occurring mental and addiction issues need dual diagnosis treatment and coordinated intervention. Therefore, the addicted person should be enrolled in a rehabilitation center offering mental treatment and addiction recovery services.

Signs of Addiction

Behavioral changes associated with addiction include a drop in school performance, unexplained changes in attitude and beliefs, sudden mood changes, irritability, and angry outbursts. The family members might also notice changes in sleeping patterns, eating habits, and secretive or suspicious behaviors. The addicted person might also become paranoid, anxious, fearful, or start causing trouble, such as fights and accidents. If a close friend or a family member exhibits these signs, it is time to investigate further and seek professional help.

Addicts often experience physical changes such as sudden weight loss or gain, unusual smell from the body or clothing, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, tremors, and deterioration of physical appearance. Social changes are also common and easy to notice. For example, family and friends might see sudden changes in friends, hobbies, and places they visit. Others might experience unexplained financial, relationship, and legal problems, often associated with the addictive substance.

Cycle of Addiction

To understand the mind of an addiction sufferer, it is crucial to understand the addiction cycle. The cycle has four stages, which start with craving. Craving is an intense desire for alcohol or drug, often triggered by stress and environmental factors. The second phase involves using the substance to satisfy the craving. This phase is associated with pleasure and relief, which is usually short-term. Consequences form the third phase, highlighting negative issues arising from the use of alcohol or substance. The consequences include financial challenges, loss of job, health problems, and legal troubles. Denial is the last phase of the addiction cycle, where the addicted person denies having any difficulty, leading to a barrier that prevents timely intervention.

The Role of Dopamine in the Mind of an Addiction Sufferer

Dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward. Using alcohol or drugs increases dopamine in the brain, leading to pleasure. However, the brain adapts to the temporary increase in dopamine and reduces the amount released or the number of dopamine receptors. Consequently, a person needs more drugs or substances to enjoy the same pleasure.

To understand the mind of an addiction sufferer, one must understand addiction, its causes, signs, and impact on the brain. It is also crucial to understand that addiction is a disease that can occur with other mental conditions. Therefore, it is advisable to provide appropriate intervention based on the addiction level and other mental disorders.