Addiction is a chronic, but treatable, brain disorder. People who are addicted cannot control their need for alcohol or other drugs, even in the face of negative health, social or legal consequences. This lack of control is the result of alcohol- or drug-induced changes in the brain. Those changes, in turn, cause behavior changes.
The brains of addicted people “have been modified by the drug in such a way that absence of the drug makes a signal to their brain that is equivalent to the signal of when you are starving,” says National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow. It is “as if the individual was in a state of deprivation, where taking the drug is indispensable for survival. It’s as powerful as that.”
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