Addiction is a disease which affects a person’s brain and behavior. When someone is addicted to drugs, they can’t resist the urge to use them, no matter how much harm the drugs may cause. The earlier that person gets treatment for their addiction, tthe greater the ability to avoid some of the more dire consequences of the disease.
Drug addiction isn’t about just heroin, cocaine, or other illegal drugs. Addiction frequently occurs with alcohol, nicotine, sleep and anti-anxiety medications, and other legal substances.
Addiction also may come from prescription or illegally obtained narcotic pain medications, or opioids. This problem is at epidemic levels in the United States. In 2020, opioids played a role in two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths.
At first, a person may choose to take a drug because they like the way it makes them feel. Most people think they can control how much and how often to use it. Over time, however, drugs change how the brain works. These physical changes can last a long time and cause users to lose control leading to damaging behaviors.