10 reasons why drugs are bad

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Posted January 22, Reviewed by Ekua Hagan. A key characteristic of drug addiction is that the individual suffering from it continues to use despite harmful consequences. The behavioral economic perspective views addiction as a consequence of falling victim to decision failures that lead to a preference for the addictive behavior Bickel et al.

The following are 10 ways in which addictive consumption choices can be pathologically impaired. These dysfunctional decision-making processes also predict whether individuals retain the capacity to improve their choices Heyman, Why do only certain individuals become and remain addicted? There is substantial evidence for a genetic predisposition to develop addiction Kreek et al.

It is also possible that heavy drinking causes major changes in the brain. Self- medication. For example, alcohol can make us relax and forget our worries. Unfortunately, over time, the brain of a heavy drinker adjusts to the continuous consumption, resulting in anxiety and irritability. And instead of drinking to feel good, the person ends up drinking to feel normal. The lack of alternative, non-drug rewards partly explains the demand for drug consumption.

There is now extensive research showing that providing alternative rewards to those who formerly lacked them may improve addiction treatment outcomes. That is, environmental conditions can play a major role in treating drug addiction and in preventing relapses. Chronic drug abuse is associated with impaired self-awareness dysfunction of the insular cortex , which manifests as a denial of the severity of addiction and the need for treatment Naqvi et al. For example, only a small fraction of heavy drinkers admit they have a drinking problem.

This is one reason why some people keep drinking even after they realize it's destroying their lives. Mindfulness is an important approach shown to improve awareness and inhibitory control Paulus and Stewart Chronic drug use can lead to a separation between the predicted value of reward from the drug and its actual enjoyment Kringelbach and Berridge, For addicts, intense wanting or craving for addictive substances is not necessarily accompanied by an enjoyment of their consumption.

That is, even after the drug no longer brings pleasure, an addict can still feel a strong urge to use. They are craving the drug even when the drug is no longer pleasurable. Deadly attraction. Studies have concluded that drug-related attentional bias predicts post-treatment relapse among drug-abusers Field et al. However, there are ways to reduce its effects, the simplest of which is to avoid situations and stimuli that are related to substance use. The late addiction psychologist Marlatt coined the term abstinence violation effect AVE to refer to situations in which addicts respond to an initial indulgence by consuming even more of the forbidden substance.

And they feel utterly defeated. The bias occurs when an individual views his relapse as a deviation from his commitment to absolute abstinence. Impulsivity is the inclination to seek out immediate gratification at the cost of long-term gains. For an addict, the decision to continue to use may reflect the impulsive system dominating the deliberative process.

Thus, events that are more immediate in time such as having the drug now as opposed to the delayed consequences have a stronger capability to influence decision making. Moreover, research suggests that alcohol and other drug abuse may impair the reflective mind, which is responsible for a wide range of control, including inhibition, sustained attention and planning Volkow and Baler, There is solid evidence on the link between chronic stress and the motivation to abuse addictive substances Al'Absi, For instance, research in human studies shows that adverse childhood experiences , such as physical and sexual abuse , neglect, domestic violence , and family dysfunction, are associated with an increased risk for addiction.

High emotional stress is associated with a loss of control over impulses and an inability to delay gratification. Moreover, poverty or the scarcity of resources is stressful in nature and can lead to emotional distress and subsequent drug use. Projection bias.

The behavior stems in part because people cannot recall the intensity of their own past cravings. The failure to vividly recall or anticipate the discomfort of craving can explain why people overestimate their own abilities to resist the craving. In summary: Drug addiction is associated with altered decision making that appears to overvalue pleasure, undervalue risk, and cause failure to learn from repeated mistakes. Thus, addiction might be best viewed as a chronic disease, such as heart disease or diabetes, and not a moral failure, so that most addicts will require long-term treatment, and relapse can be expected to occur sometime during the treatment.

Therefore, the occasional relapse is only a predictable setback, not a failure of the treatment. Al'Absi Mustafa Bickel, W. The behavioral economics of substance use disorders: Reinforcement pathologies and their repair. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 10, Field M. A meta-analytic investigation of the relationship between attentional bias and subjective craving in substance abuse. Khantzian, E. Reflections on treating addictive disorders: a psychodynamic perspective.

The American Journal of Addictions, 21, Kreek et al. Towards a functional neuroanatomy of pleasure and happiness. Trends Cog Sci. Marlatt GA, Witkiewitz K. Relapse prevention: Maintenance strategies in the treatment of addictive behaviors; Naqvi, Nasir H. Science Interoception and drug addiction. Volkow, N. Shahram Heshmat, Ph. Shahram Heshmat Ph. Science of Choice. Addiction Essential Re. References Al'Absi Mustafa Heyman G. About the Author. Online: LinkedIn. Read Next. Back Psychology Today.

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10 reasons why drugs are bad

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