If you’re reading this, you most certainly know what addiction is. Whether you are suffering from it currently, are working on your recovery, or have experienced it through a loved one’s challenges, you are surely well aware of what addiction is and what it does, even if you wish you weren’t.

Addiction is powerful and takes over the mind, body, and spirit of the people afflicted with it. This is an undeniable fact. Until that person gets help and breaks free from it, unfortunately, he or she is under the control of addiction, and it’s a terrible thing to see.

Even though we know what addiction is, though, we may not know the answer to another separate, vital and related question. In fact, many addiction professionals, people in recovery, researchers and doctors have not even settled on a definitive answer to it.

The question is simple, but there is no one right answer for it. How does addiction start?

The Question

People have been asking the question of how and when does addiction start since addiction began. How does someone go from having a good time at a party to being dependent on a drug or alcohol? Why does it happen to some people and not others? Why do some drugs seem to take over an individual nearly immediately, while others take their sweet time?

When addiction studies began, it was believed that anyone who suffered a substance abuse disorder was simply weak and had no will power. People believed that the best way to break an addiction was to punish the user. It’s likely this was rarely, if ever, successful.

The word addiction comes from a Latin base word that means “enslaved by” or “bound to.”  This makes sense to anyone who has experienced addiction first or even secondhand.

People who suffer from addiction lose control over their actions and crave and seek out drugs or alcohol no matter what the cost. They become a slave to a substance, and nothing can stand in their way – not loss of relationships, not arrests, not lack of money, nor loss of jobs or broken dreams. An addicted individual becomes a different person while he or she under the control of their drug of choice.

This is the end result of substance abuse.  But how does it begin?

The Hijacking of the Brain

Researches believe that drugs and alcohol take over the brain. The best way to describe this takeover is that the brain is literally hijacked. These substances, in many cases, even destroy the parts of our brains that are designed to keep us happy and alive.

A healthy brain rewards healthy behaviors like exercising, eating, sleeping, and spending time doing things we love and being with people we care about. Our brains register pleasure and release dopamine which makes us feel great. This happens naturally in all of us and is really amazing. It is through natural chemicals in the brain that we experience joy and happiness. For people who are not addicted to drugs or alcohol, or who don’t experience depression or other mental health disorders, this dopamine flows freely and encourages us to seek out positive and healthy experiences each day.

However, when it comes to people who use drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, this natural system gets derailed. These substances quickly rewire the pleasure circuits in your brain and convince you that they are the best and easiest ways to get that dopamine release. When people become addicted, this soon becomes one of the only ways to get it.

In time, it’s difficult to know what is real in your mind and what is the substances telling you what to believe. As people descend more deeply into addiction, long term damage occurs in the prefrontal cortex that makes rational decisionmaking difficult when it comes to the consumption of these substances.

It Can Happen So Fast

There is no definitive answer that applies to everyone when it comes to how long it takes addiction to take hold. Some people can do drugs for many years and still not experience addictive effects; others will become susceptible much more quickly. It also depends on the substance, too. Some drugs and alcohol can be socially consumed for long periods without causing addiction, but others can re-train the brain in a very short time.

One type of drug that seems to lead quickly to addiction in most users is opioids. Many people who have suffered or are suffering from addiction to opioids report that they felt that they didn’t even have a chance. They began using opioids as prescribed by their doctor after an accident or for chronic pain, and before they knew it, they were wholly dependent on the drug.  When doctors cut them off from it, they turned to the street to feed their addictions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47,590 people died from an opioid overdose in 2018, and today, more than two million people suffer from opioid addiction disorder. Opioids are the biggest addiction epidemic the United States and the world have ever faced. However, keep in mind that these are only the figures from one drug. Other drugs and alcohol kill many people per year as well.

When Is It Addiction?

Even if you are someone who has directly suffered from addiction yourself, you are probably unable to pinpoint when your casual use became an addiction. However, there are warning signs that indicate that a user needs help to break free.  If someone tries to stop using a substance but finds that he or she is unable to quit, then he or she is likely experiencing addiction.  If the user thinks about the drug frequently and is always looking forward to the next high, then that is another sign of a problem, as is opting out of things he or she enjoyed in the past like spending time with friends or family, hobbies, or other social events.  Finally, if a person is aware that ongoing drug or alcohol use is causing the individual physical harm but continues to do it anyway, he or she likely needs help to break the cycle.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these indicators, it’s time to get help now.  Call us at Clear Sky Recoverybecause we can help. We offer ibogaine treatment for individuals who are struggling with addiction.  Our innovative methods are rooted in the African continent, using medicine drawn from the tabernanthe iboga plant.  Ibogaine has proven successful time and time again in interrupting addiction and helping individuals who have experienced it to start anew, on a fresh path moving forward, free of the burden of addiction.  Our intake specialists are standing by to give you more information about our methods, our facility in Cancun, Mexico, and our successes so far.  We look forward to hearing from you, and to helping you begin a new and healthier life.  Give us a call today.

Resources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/how-addiction-hijacks-the-brain

https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2015/10/biology-addiction

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/12/23/it-only-took-one-pill-how-addiction-starts/

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html