Addiction is serious, and not at all uncommon: about 31 million people in the world have a drug use disorder. The consequences of addiction can be serious and tragic. However, as science unveils more about how addiction and the brain work, there are some very interesting drug facts to learn.
As you learn these interesting drug facts, you’ll have a better understanding of how and why people become addicted. This can make you more compassionate toward addicts, and reduce belief in myths. Education is an important piece in the battle against addiction.
Which drug and alcohol addiction facts are most interesting — and more important? These are the ones we think you should know about.
Addiction Has Multiple Causes
Many people oversimplify the causes of addiction so they can simply say, “addiction is a choice.” However, addiction is far from a choice, and many different factors can cause addiction in the brain.
There’s a reason why some people become addicts and not others, and it has nothing to do with choice. Instead, factors like family history, early-life trauma, and even genetics make some people more likely to become addicts.
Certain mental health issues also make addiction more likely. PTSD, depression, and anxiety can sometimes be caused by addiction, but they can also be part of the cause of addiction.
Your Brain Adapts
When you drink alcohol or consume other brain-altering substances, your brain actually adapts.
This plays an important role in addiction. If you’re frequently under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your brain will adapt to this “new normal.” This adaptation can be permanent, even in addicts who have been able to quit.
Prescription Drugs Are Part of the Problem
Many people draw a distinction between prescription drugs and non-prescription drugs. But while prescribed drugs are important in medical contexts, when abused they can actually be deadlier than illegal drugs.
In fact, addicts often start on the path to addiction with a prescription. Drug abuse doesn’t always begin as illegal activity.
Not All Withdrawals Can Kill You
Drug withdrawal is an incredibly hard, unpleasant experience. However, withdrawal from most drugs isn’t enough to kill a person. Surprisingly, alcohol is one of the only drugs that can have deadly withdrawals.
The other drug withdrawals that can kill you are from benzodiazepine. Otherwise, withdrawals won’t be fun (and are best done under medical supervision), but they won’t be deadly.
Abuse and Addiction Are Different
It is possible to abuse drugs or alcohol, without actually being addicted to them.
Abuse can cause problems in someone’s personal or work life. However, at this stage, the brain and body haven’t yet adapted to the presence of the drug, which is when addiction sets in.
What to Do with These Interesting Drug Facts
Now that you have these interesting drug facts, how should you use them?
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use or addiction, these facts will help you better understand the problem — and know how to seek treatment. But even if no one you know is affected, these facts will help you understand addiction better, and be more sympathetic to those struggling with it.
Looking for more about addiction and treatment? Be sure to check out the updates in our Rehab Article Topics section!