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A drug is any chemical you take that affects the way your body works.

Alcohol, caffeine,
aspirin and nicotine are all drugs. A drug must be able to pass from your body into your
brain. Once inside your brain, drugs can change the messages your brain cells are sending
to each other, and to the rest of your body.

People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking or using.
Their addiction may reach a point at which it is harmful. In other words, addiction may
refer to a substance dependence or behavioral addiction.

Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking
and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around
him or her. Although the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, the
brain changes that occur over time challenge an addicted persons self-control and
hamper his or her ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.

Drugs contain chemicals that tap into the brains communication system and disrupt the
way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. There are at least two
ways that drugs cause this disruption:

1- by imitating the brains natural chemical messengers

2- by overstimulating the reward circuit of the brain.

3- flooding the brain with excess chemicals

4- binding to receptors in the brain.

Because some drugs like marijuana and heroin, have a similar structure to chemical
messengers, called neurotransmitters, which are naturally produced by the brain. Because
of this similarity, these drugs are able to fool the brains receptors and activate nerve
cells to send abnormal messages. This results in the high you feel when you take these
drugs.

When someone uses a drug of abuse, The reward circuitry is activatedwith dopamine
carrying the message. After, the brain starts changing as a result of the unnatural flood of
neurotransmitters. Because they sense more than enough dopamine, neurons may begin
to reduce the number of dopamine receptors or simply make less dopamine, so the brain
starts changing as a result of the unnatural flood of neurotransmitters. Because they sense
more than enough dopamine, neurons may begin to reduce the number of dopamine
receptors or simply make less dopamine.

Dopamines ability to activate circuits to cause pleasure is severely weakened. The person
feels flat, lifeless, and depressed. In fact, without drugs, life may seem joyless. Now the
person needs drugs just to bring dopamine levels up to normal.

Successful treatment has several steps:

1. detoxification (the process by which the body rids itself of a drug)

2. behavioral counseling
3. medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)

4. evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and
anxiety

5. long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

Effective treatment addresses all of the patients needs, not just his or her drug use.

6. Staying in treatment long enough is critical.

7. Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of
treatment.

8. Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with
behavioral therapies.

9. Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patients changing needs.

10. Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.

11. Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.

12. Treatment doesn't need to be voluntary to be effective.

13. Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.