Thesis Statement: In this paper, I will try and analyze addiction and the various behaviors that addiction will induce in an individual, and I will also describe the kinds of addiction that an average individual is prone to, and research the efforts that are being made for an addict to try to control his offensive behavior brought on by his addiction.
Experts feel and do stress on the fact that addictions and compulsions of any kind stem and originate from an overwhelming feeling of not being in control of one’s life, and a need to gain some form of control over events that seem to be overtaking him or her.
Certain addictions, however, possess genetic components, and are generally passed on within the family, where one member may have been addicted or been prone to compulsive behaviors. He may have inadvertently passed on this behavior to the next generation, and in these cases, this vicious cycle would continue.
Addictions can be of several kinds.
One such compulsion is that of an addiction to drugs or other substances, and another is an obsession for sex. Eating disorders can also qualify as addictions of compulsions, and overspending, gambling and overworking too are obsessive and compulsive disorders.
According to experts, “The power of fantasy is the enduring power of addiction”, wherein an addict may be prone to developing fantasies of having gained a sense of control over his life, because of his addiction. The addict would then be quite unwilling to give up these drug induced fantasies and enter a normal life again, and this can be one of the major problems that an addict may face at the time when he is addicted; no matter what his addiction may be.
The addicted individual would more often than not choose to induce mood changes in himself, instead of trying to address the actual causes of the stresses that he is faced with. Take for example an alcoholic; he would prefer to drink and blame the failure of his marriage on his spouse, rather than face the underlying issues behind the failure of his marriage. In this lies the causes and the reasons for his continued addiction to alcohol. Take the example of a money addict.
This individual would prefer to binge on a spending spree, rather than face the underlying money issues, and making use of the money to settle his debts. In short, an addict behaves in such a way that he believes with strong conviction that no matter what stresses life may have to throw at him, he would be able to face them all, as long as he has his own addiction to get him through life’s tough situations. (Earll, Steven, 2004)
As a result of extensive scientific research done through the years, today one can be reasonably sure that addiction as such can be qualified as a disease that affects one’s brain as well as one’s behaviors. It is interesting to note that in the past, scientists attributed addictive behaviors related to drug and alcohol abuse to the fact that the user lacked in willpower, and that he could, if he wished to, bring an end to his addictions.
This was the view that shaped most of society’s responses to addicts; an addict was viewed as a morally flawed individual, who displayed serious moral failing by being unable to control his own behaviors. It is only today that the average individual is able to comprehend the basic fact that addiction may be the result of a combination of different factors, and that it can must be treated as a disease than could cause great harm to one’s health.
Scientists today use this vital knowledge to create and develop effective methods of treatment, which would be able to reduce the toll that addiction has on the individual’s family and friends. Today, preventive drug abuse has gained precedence over other forms of treatment, and this has been proven to help addicts get over their addictions with a reasonable amount of success.
Drug addiction or abuse as such can be described as a chronic and relapsing disease that affects the brain of the user, despite the user being aware of the fact that such abuse can result in grave consequences for him in the long run. One must remember that the longer an individual is addicted to drugs, the more harmful the impact of the drugs on his brain, and the more harmful his behavior may become.
To understand the true nature of addiction, one must first try to understand why people take drugs, and exactly why they become addicted to drugs and other substances. One of the more important and one of the first reasons according to researchers is that an individual starts taking drugs so that he may feel good. Most drugs induce a sense of great pleasure in the individual who has taken them, and more importantly, the user feels a sense of power, self confidence and self assurance that he would never feel in normal life.
Perhaps, the sense of power, feelings of relaxation and of intense satisfaction that the drugs have given him induces him to take more, and then some more, until the time when he can no longer control his intake, and at which time he is considered to be addicted. Individuals, who may suffer from feelings of acute anxiety, or from stress related disorders, or from clinical depression, are also prone to use drugs to help them overcome these feelings. Some others may feel that drugs may help them perform better, like for example an athlete, who may take performance enhancing drugs that would help him win.
Adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to drug addiction, perhaps because of peer pressure, or simply because ‘others are doing it, why not me?’ the sad fact is that although drugs may offer the user a sense of satisfaction and power at the outset, it is true that as time goes by, the user will feel that he has to take more quantities of the same drug, if he wished to achieve the same feelings of euphoria and pleasure. It is at this time that the user realizes that he would not be able to function without a ‘fix’, at which time he may be considered an ‘addict’.
Drug addicts reach a point of time when they pursue the drug as if it were a lifeline, regardless of the behavioral problems that the
Drug usage may cause in them, and the trouble that they may be causing others around them, because of the drug usage and addiction. It is at this point of time that drug usage becomes known as drug abuse and addiction, and it is at this point that the addict’s self control becomes severely strained and impaired.
Scientists have conducted brain imaging and mapping studies of drug addicts, and the findings show that for addicted individuals, physical changes become evident in the areas of the brain that would normally control judgment, decision making, memory, and even behavior control. These are the changes in the brain that affect the addict’s behaviors, and they may well be able to shed light on the compulsive and the addictive behaviors displayed by an addict.
A tragic factor is that an adolescent’s brain continues to develop and grow into adulthood, and when the adolescent uses drugs and becomes addicted to them, then he undergoes dramatic changes in his pre-frontal cortex, that area of the brain that would enable him to assess a particular give situation, make decisions based on his judgment of that situation, and keep his desires and yearnings under control, as any normal adolescent would do.
This means that the adolescent would be forced to lose control over a given situation, and submit to the influence of drug addiction on his behavior. Therefore, say experts, introducing drugs or other substances at this stage of development would automatically have a long lasting negative impact on the young person who has become addicted. (Volkow, D Nora (2007)