October 3, 2012 by preventyouthdrugabuse
As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, youth are more susceptible to addiction to illicit substances. There is no strict amount of any substance or period of time it takes to become addicted, as there are so many factors that influence this! What I wish to outline in here is why people become addicted!
It all works on the notion of us seeking pleasure. Seeking pleasure is a natural part of life – it is actually necessary for our survival. The limbic system – a set of brain structures that supports brain functions such as emotion and behaviour actually drives us to seek out things that will bring us pleasure.
So how does drug addiction come into this? According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) USA, the feelings experienced when using a drug for the first time, the experience is “unnaturally intense feelings of pleasure”. Every time you use this drug your brain activates circuits which cause the feeling of pleasure. Your brain senses the chemical Dopamine (responsible for feelings of pleasure), receptors of this chemical diminish and naturally creates less of it. The result of this is dopamine’s ability to activate the circuits to release feelings of pleasure is diminished and your ability to feel pleasure in normal circumstances is weakened. As was mentioned earlier, it is natural for us to seek out pleasure, and so over time, people become reliant on these substances to provide them with pleasure.
Drugs are widely available despite being criminalised, people as young as 12 and 13 are accessing them. When youth so young become addicted, naturally they will continue to seek out these substances to bring back the sensations of pleasure. This is why it is necessary to put measures in place to actively try and prevent youth from accessing these substances.