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Health & Wellness Wednesdays

Dealing with Addictions

How Long Does it Take to Develop an Addiction?

I don't remember the first time someone warned me about drugs. The earliest memory I have of it is in preschool, but it could've been earlier. Addiction was an ever-present threat, and I was extremely aware of the risk. Over and over, people would say, "it only takes once". 

 

Assuming this to be true, I never wavered, slipped, or dared try an addictive substance. As an adult, I began to question what addiction really was - how it affects you, how it happens, and if that statement was really true.

 

The answer is... it's complicated. Developing addiction looks different for everyone, and it's not a one-size-fits-all. Some substances are designed to be highly addictive - they suck you in once and don't let you go, while others take some repetition in order to become habitual. 

 

Humans are creatures of routine, so the more we do something, the more likely we are to repeat it. Couple that with a substance that's designed to make you crave more and... there you have it.

 

Genetics plays a factor too. Some people are predisposed to addiction and have addictive personalities or tendencies. They easily slip into an all-or-nothing mentality that makes it hard to use something casually. 

 

In the same way that (contrary to popular belief) there isn't an exact number of days required to form a habit, there isn't an exact number of days or doses required to develop an addiction. It's not always "just one use", but it could be. 

 

The safest way to avoid addiction is to avoid putting yourself in situations where you're likely to feel obligated to use. Don't play around with dangerous substances, especially if you think you might be predisposed to addiction. 

 

It's okay to say no and to prioritize safety. Cautious isn't a bad thing, and addiction isn't something to play around with. Be careful, purposeful, and make sure to think things through.

Recommended Book

High Achiever

Jun 18, 2019
ISBN: 9780593135938

Interesting Fact #1

Biology, development, and the environment all contribute to the development of an addiction.

SOURCE

Interesting Fact #2

Addiction is treated and viewed as a kind of chronic illness - it can't be "cured" exactly, but it can be managed well.

SOURCE

Interesting Fact #3

Research has shown that addiction can be prevented through prevention programs.

SOURCE

Quote of the day

I wanted a drink. There were a hundred reasons why a man will want a drink, but I wanted one now for the most elementary reason of all. I didn't want to feel what I was feeling, and a voice within was telling me that I needed a drink, that I couldn't bear it without it. But that voice is a liar. You can always bear the pain. It'll hurt, it'll burn like acid in an open wound, but you can stand it. And, as long as you can make yourself go on choosing the pain over the relief, you can keep going.

- Lawrence Block

Article of the day - How Long Does it Take To Develop an Addiction?

You may have heard that certain drugs are more addictive than others, or someone may have told you that some drugs are not addicting at all. You may have even witnessed someone using drugs recreationally who didn’t seem to be addicted to what they were taking. What is true, what is not, and just how easy is it to get addicted to drugs? The information here will help you navigate what can be a confusing topic.

DRUG ADDICTION TIMELINE

To be clear, there is no prescribed drug addiction timeline. This is because neither drugs nor people are the same. Thus, the response to drugs and the time it takes to develop an addiction can vary. Here are some factors that play a role in the amount of time it takes to form an addiction:

  • The addictive nature of one drug over another
  • The genetic predisposition and biological make-up of individuals
  • The frequency of use
  • The sense of utility or euphoria experienced with initial use that provides a false sense of control

 

DRUGS, ADDICTION AND THE BRAIN

Think of your brain as a computer. Your brain consists of circuits and networks of neurons that send and receive messages to perform every function you do. Neurons send messages by releasing neurotransmitters, which carry the message to other parts of the network. Endorphins and dopamine are two examples of neurotransmitters that cause a euphoric sensation, reinforce behavior that leads to that sensation, and are manipulated through drug use.

If your brain is a computer, then drugs are computer hackers. Some drugs, like heroin and marijuana, are like Trojan horses that masquerade as neurotransmitters. Stimulants, on the other hand, act more like viruses that replicate, causing the release of abnormally large quantities of natural neurotransmitters. Different types of drugs impact the brain in different ways, but every drug impacts brain functioning and some, especially with repeated use, can have long-term effects.

 

THE LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS

The law of diminishing returns is the point at which the benefit derived from something is less than the amount invested. In the brain, this is demonstrated by the increased amounts of drugs required to produce the same effect. At some point, the brain may produce fewer of its own neurotransmitters, which can result in the inability to experience pleasure in general life experiences as you once did. It can also form strong bonds in the brain that trigger the desire to achieve the high, which decreases in its intensity over time, and prioritize and repeat the drug use over healthier activities.

 

SIGNS OF ADDICTION

Whatever the timeline may be, there are signs that may indicate drug addiction. Although not all-inclusive, here are some of the signs:

  • Loss of interest in previously valued activities and relationships
  • Increased frequency and/or amount of drug use to achieve the same effect
  • An inability to experience the same high that occurred with initial use
  • The prioritization of drug use over activities and relationship
  • Ongoing use despite negative consequences as a result of use
  • Physical and psychological withdrawal without use

The process of addiction, the time it takes to become addicted, and the impact of drugs on the brain can occur with one use or with repeated use. Some may be able to use certain drugs without developing an addiction. The type of drug used, the frequency of use and the genetic make-up of the individual are some of the factors that play a role in drug addiction.

 

THE GOOD NEWS

Just as drug use can alter your brain, recovery can rewire your brain, too. Healthy lifestyle choices and relationships along with discontinued use of the drug can positively impact brain functioning over time. It is never too late. Contact Clean Recovery to learn about our innovative therapeutic and recovery interventions and how they can help you or your loved one.

Question of the day - Do you have an addictive personality?

Dealing with Addictions

Do you have an addictive personality?