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What Causes Addiction?

There are many mechanisms that causes addiction to develop in the human body.  Physical and psychological dependence theories, neuroscientific explanations, positive and negative reinforcers, incentive sensitization theory, hipanic dysregulation and adaption, and behavioral economics are all mechanism that can cause addiction to develop.

Physical and psychological dependence theories have come a long way.  Recent research explains that there is significant brain change after prolonged use of drugs that can affect the psychological dependence of a drug. Physical and psychological dependence can go together in a way that people can physically withdrawal psychologically.

Neuroscientific explanation of addiction shows that people use drugs on their own to activate the positive reinforcers. Positive reinforcement should not be linked to pleasure only.  Positive and negative reinforcers are not linked directly to increased behaviors.  Positive reinforcement is hard for scientists to even explain but they do know that by using a drug as a positive reinforce can control behavior.  Controlling behavior is a lot different than increased behavior.  There are many reasons that the reinforcing value of drugs can be altered such as genetics, task demands, stress, dependence, and motivations.

The Incentive Sensitization and Craving describes the sensitivity to addiction.  This theory explains how stimuli can activate dopamine and as drug use repeats it will have a greater incentive value and becomes a stronger reinforce over time.

The Hedonic Dysregulatin and Adaption theory explains that pleasure is a result of reinforcement.

Behavior Economics includes making choices (such as the matching law and spiral to addiction) and choice and time (explains that the further away in time something is the value decreases).

Drug abuse and addiction is a brain and developmental condition that starts in adolescents because this is when the brain is still developing.  Adolescents are extremely vulnerable and the environment as well as biology or genes play a huge role in addiction.  The causes of addiction can range from food to exercise to drugs and other harmful activities.

The brain is extremely complicated ordinarily and addiction makes it just that much more to understand.   The brain consists of billions of neurons and this is the main messaging system of the brain.  Just by comprehending the process of how the brain works should give you a deeper understanding of why people become addicts or have addiction problems.  The cell body is fascinating in that each cell has many components.  For example, 1 cell body consists of dendrites (this is where the cell receives the information from the neurons) and electric pulses travel from these dendrites through the axon to the terminal branches.  Next, the neurotransmitters are released in the synapse and attach to the receptors located on the dendrites and this is how information transmits from one cell to the other.

It’s not just the brain that is affected by drugs and addiction.  Another major part of the body that is drastically affected is the central nervous system.  The central nervous system includes the brain and the spinal cord.  When a person uses drugs it affects every part of the body.  For example, one might  think that smoking nicotine would only affect the lungs, drinking beer would only affect the liver, and LSD would only affect the brain.  This is untrue.  When drugs enter the body the neurons carry the messages from the brain through the spinal cord and then back up to the brain thus affecting every part of the body.  The central nervous system also includes the sensory and motor cortex.  The sensory cortex interprets pain the motor cortex produces a response.  It is amazing that all of this happens within seconds.  As you can see, what causes addiction ranges and research still is being done to ascertain new treatment methods and approaches.