Addiction is a complex phenomenon that can be difficult to understand. It is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. It is a condition that alters the way the brain produces chemicals that affect mood, leading to substance abuse and behavioral addictions. When someone engages in substance abuse, their brain produces fewer of its own chemicals because it has enough drugs or alcohol.
This means that the receptors in the brain become accustomed to being activated by an external substance, leading to a decrease in the pleasure they experience from activities they once enjoyed. People with addiction may find themselves consuming or drinking larger amounts or for longer periods of time than they had planned. They may be aware of their problem but unable to stop even if they want to and try. Addiction can cause physical and psychological problems, as well as interpersonal issues such as with family and friends or at work.
It is one of the leading causes of preventable diseases and premature death across the country. At its core, addiction interferes with normal brain function, particularly in the reward system. To better understand addiction, it is important to recognize some of its general elements and why it can be so difficult to break the cycle of dependence.