Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Substance Abuse and Addiction

People abuse substances such as drugs and alcohol for varied and complicated reasons. Substance abuse may begin in childhood or the teen years. Early recognition of drug or alcohol addiction increases chances for successful treatment.

Drug Abuse, Addiction, and the Brain

Many people do not understand why people become addicted to drugs or how drugs change the brain to foster compulsive drug abuse. They mistakenly view drug abuse and addiction as strictly a social problem and may characterize those who take drugs as morally weak. One very common belief is that drug abusers should be able to just stop taking drugs if they are only willing to change their behavior.

What people often underestimate is the complexity of drug addiction -- that it is a disease that impacts the brain, and because of that, stopping drug abuse is not simply a matter of willpower. Through scientific advances we now know much more about how exactly drugs work in the brain, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people who want to stop abusing drugs and resume productive lives.

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