What Is Addiction? Questions & Answers

People don't plan to get addicted to drugs, but when they first take a drug, they might like how it makes them feel. They believe they can control how much and how often they take the drug. However, drugs can change the brain. Those who used drugs in the beginning to feel good, now may need to take drugs just to feel normal.

What is Addiction?


People don't plan to get addicted to drugs, but when they first take a drug, they might like how it makes them feel. They believe they can control how much and how often they take the drug. However, drugs can change the brain. Those who used drugs in the beginning to feel good, now may need to take drugs just to feel normal. They may also seek and take drugs even if it causes problems for themselves and their loved ones. Some people may even take higher doses of drugs or more of them. These are signs of an addiction, and it can quickly take over a person's life.


For some people with severe addictions, taking drugs can become more important than the need to eat or sleep. The urge to get and use the drug can fill every moment of a person's life. The addiction can replace all the things the person used to enjoy. Some people who are addicted may do almost anything—lying, stealing— to keep taking the drug.


Addiction is a long-lasting brain disorder.


  • Drugs can change how the brain works.
  • These brain changes can last for a long time.
  • They can cause problems with a person’s behaviour like being moody, having memory loss, or even having trouble thinking and making decisions.

Addiction is an illness, just as heart disease and cancer are illnesses. Addiction is not simply a weakness. It does not mean someone is a bad person. People from all backgrounds (poor/rich, went to college/didn’t finish school, and so on) can get an addiction. Addiction can happen to anyone and at any age.


What are some signs and symptoms of someone with a drug use problem?


People with drug problems might act differently than they used to. They might:

change their friends a lot
  • spend a lot of time alone and choose not to spend time with family and friends like they used to
  • lose interest in their favourite things
  • get messy—for instance, not bathe, change clothes, or brush their teeth
  • be really tired and sad
  • have changes in eating habits (eating more or eating less)
  • be very energetic, talk fast, or say things that don't make sense
  • be nervous or cranky (in a bad mood)
  • quickly change between feeling bad and feeling good
  • sleep at strange hours
  • miss important appointments
  • have problems at work or at school

People with an addiction often can't stop taking the drug on their own. They might try to stop taking the drug and then feel really sick. Then they may take the drug again to stop feeling sick. They keep using the drug even though it's causing family, health, or legal problems. They may need help to stop using drugs.


How Does Drug Use Become an Addiction?


Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. Each person's body and brain are different. People react to drugs differently and there's no rule about how soon someone becomes addicted. It can happen quickly or take time. Your relationships, the places around you, and worries can also make you more or less likely to become addicted.


But how does taking drugs become an addiction?


Our brains want us to repeat things that we need or enjoy—like eating a good meal. That's why you sometimes eat more dessert than you know you should. That's why a little child often shouts "again!" when you do something to make them laugh.


Drugs of abuse excite the parts of the brain that make you feel good. But, after you take a drug for a while, the feel-good parts of your brain get used to it. Then you need to take more of the drug to get the same good feeling. Soon, your brain and body must have the drug to just feel normal. You feel sick and awful without the drug.

Why Is It So Hard to Quit Drugs?


Getting better from addiction can take time. Being addicted can make you afraid of what will happen if you don't keep taking the drug. Some people won't try quitting until they're forced to, because it seems too hard.


When someone stops using a drug, they might feel very sick for a while, and feel a very strong need to take the drug. It can be really hard to stop taking the drug when you feel that bad. 


Although it can be hard to get off drugs, you don't have to do it alone. Support groups, treatment programs, and sometimes medicines can help. You'll meet people who understand what you're going through, who can give you advice and cheer you on. Counsellors can teach you how to handle life’s problems without using drugs. 


After you get treatment, you still have a lot to do:

  • You have to relearn how to live without using drugs.
  • You have to work on the problems your drug use caused with your family, your job, your friends, and your money.
  • You have to stay away from people you used drugs with and places where you used.
  • You have to learn what makes you want to take drugs again, so you can avoid those things.
  • You may also need treatment for problems that led to your drug use, such as feeling sad, worrying about things, or mood problems.

What are Addiction Triggers?


A trigger is anything that makes a person want to go back to using drugs. It can be a place, person, thing, smell, feeling, or something that happened in the past that reminds the person of taking a drug and getting high. A trigger can be something that you worry about that you want to get away from. It can even be something that makes you feel happy. People fighting addiction need to stay away from the triggers that can make them start using drugs again, just like people with breathing problems need to avoid smoke and dust.

We at The Way Recovery trust that you found this information helpful


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