Understanding How Addiction Highjacks the Brain

(New Philadelphia, Ohio) – The Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition is encouraging the community to learn more about addiction and the effects it has on those struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.

“We believe that understanding addiction and the grip it has on individuals is a critical component in prevention efforts,” explained ADC Coordinator, Jodi Salvo. “By better understanding this disease, our community, can continue to work together in a strategic and coordinated effort to prevent it from taking hold of our family, friends, and neighbors.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is a medical disorder that affects the brain and changes behavior. Unfortunately, those with substance use disorders and other mental health issues often face greater stigma than those with other illnesses.

Medical research shows us that repeated substance use affects two main parts of the brain: the limbic system, which controls emotions and memory; and the cortex, which is the ultimate control system of the brain, and effects sensation, perception, memory, association, thought, and voluntary physical action.

According to addictionpolicy.org, many people start using substances to feel good, to feel better, to do better, or out of curiosity. However, as the addiction develops, it affects brain function, and a person’s ability to control their use diminishes. What was once a decision to use turns into a compulsion.

Additionally, the earlier someone starts using substances, the greater their chances of developing a substance use disorder (SUD), and the more severe their illness is likely to be. This is why prevention is key and talking to our youth about the risks associated with substance use is critical. Prevention focuses on strengthening the protective factors that can be controlled to decrease the likelihood that a person or community will struggle with addiction.

Science indicates that the brain can recover from a substance use disorder, but it takes time, treatment, and abstinence. However, the best treatment plan is always prevention.

For more information on local prevention efforts and resources visit adctusc.org.

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