Understanding Addiction

Addiction involves craving for something intensely, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite negative consequences. Addiction changes the brain, first by changing and undermining it. The way it registers pleasure and then by corrupting other normal drives such as learning and motivation. Although breaking an addiction is tough. It can be done. The word “addiction” comes from a term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Alcohol and Substance abuse cause addiction, however, certain pleasurable activities, such as gambling, food, shopping, and sex, can also co-opt the brain.  

Nobody starts out intending to develop an addiction, but many people get caught in its snare

Addiction influences the brain that shows itself in three distinct ways:

  • Craving for the Alcohol, Substance or Behaviour of addiction,
  • Loss of control over its use
  • Continuing involvement with it despite negative consequences.

Today addiction is recognised as a disease that changes both brain structure and function. The brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure releases dopamine. Dopamine is often described as the brain’s pleasure centre.

Dopamine not only contributes to the experience of pleasure, forced dopamine plays a role in damaging our learning and memory a key element in this change from liking something to becoming addicted to it.  The reward circuit in the brain includes areas involved with motivation and memory as well as with pleasure. Addictive substances and behaviours will damage this. Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behaviour can drive us to go after it. That is, this motivates us to take action to seek out the source of pleasure.

In Life, rewards usually come only with time and effort. Addictive drugs and behaviours provide a shortcut, flooding the brain with dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Addictive drugs, for example, can release two to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do. In time, the alcohol, behaviour or substance no longer gives them as much pleasure. They must take more of it to obtain the same dopamine “high” because their brains have adapted—an effect known as tolerance.

At this point, compulsion takes over. The pleasure associated with an addictive drug or behaviour is less, yet the memory of the desired effect and the need to recreate it (the wanting) persists. It’s as though our normal motivation is no longer functioning.

In Women over 14 units is HAZARDOUS while In Men its 21 Units is HAZARDOUS.   1 Unit: Small glass of Sherry, Small glass of wine (i.e. 7 to a bottle) ½ Glass Beer, 1/3 cider, ¼ Beer. Single measure of Spirit.  Ireland 2nd highest alcoholism rate in the world

While addiction effect brain and nervous system. I.e. damage brain cells bring in depression, anxiety low self-esteem.  Some physical effects Blood Heart and Lungs. Stomach and Pancreas. Liver can cause fatty liver, also cirrhosis.

IRELAND HAS THE third-highest rate of drug deaths in Europe. Ireland also has the highest rate of heroin use in Europe with just over 7 cases per 1000 population.  Heroin accounts for the greatest numbers of deaths related to drug use in Europe. Ireland ranked third in Europe for cocaine use among young adults (15-34), behind the United Kingdom and Spain. Figures showed that there had been an increase in the number of young people using cocaine. 

Scroll to Top