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Breaking the cycle of drug addiction

One of the most frustrating aspects of drug addiction is that it is a vicious circle that can seem impossible to break.  Unfortunately both physiological and social influences can make it very difficult for an individual to overcome their addiction, for example the social approval may lead an individual to try drugs once, and then again to maintain the approval, and subsequently the physical dependency makes it even physically impossible to cope without the use of drugs, which is usually the point at which people decide to enter into a rehab center for treatment.

However, at this stage of the disease it can be even more difficult to break free from addiction as the longer an addiction sufferer has been using drugs, the more dependent they become.  New research has suggested that it may not only be because of the pleasure reward that individuals gain from their drug use, but there is also a dramatic change in brain structure that may lead to an increase in dependency.

Researchers from Cambridge found that individuals who are dependent on cocaine have damaged gray matter in their brain, and the size of this damage is related to how long they have suffered from addiction – those that had been suffering from addiction for longer had more brain damage to their frontal lobe than those who had been dependent for less time. 

Naturally any brain damage caused by drug use is concerning, however the research also shows that this brain damage is directly related to compulsion to use drugs, which is a very distressing fact.  The more people used cocaine, the more damage they did to their brain, and this consequently leads them to need to use more of the drug.  The viciousness of this circle is difficult for non-drug users to fully understand, but many people exhibit prejudices against those who suffer drug addiction, without understanding that in many cases it is dues to the physical compulsion to use the drug rather than a psychological one that causes people to remain addicted. 

Breaking away from addiction takes an extremely strong sense of will power and determination, and although drug addiction is unpleasant, those individuals who are able to summon up the courage and strength to enter into a rehabilitation center or detox program, should be commended for their present decision rather than ostracized for their previous mistakes.


Science Daily.  (2011).  Abnormal Brain Structure Linked to Chronic Cocaine Abuse.  Sourced from:

Published by on 12/04/2020.

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