Countless times I have encountered people who believe and pass down the many misconceptions about drug use; in particular, addiction.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines addiction as follows:
ad·dic·tion - noun
- Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming
substance: a drug used in the treatment of heroin
- The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or
involved in something.
Before you go calling me on typos, I did notice there is a double 'or' in there and it's not from my end, check my bibl. Even psychologists, the people we come to with serious issues and trust not to fry our brains like an egg on a car (this is your brain on drugs... blah blah blah), do not all properly understand addiction. It is rarely considered that addiction varies in severity, type; the personality of the so-called 'addict'. Thinking of addiction, there is almost always some type of withdrawal involved, be it psychological or physiological or both. But we must understand what withdrawal is; why it occurs. Our body is built on a heirarchy, and at the lowest level we find cells, an encyclopedically large array of different cells with different functions. Many people fail to realize how many different things go on in the human body in response to tiny variables. Despite the fact that the 'blowing up' of American citizens over the years has made dieting an attractive concept. Television watchers lazily ogle the diet scam-- er- ahem- diet plan infomercials that scroll up the screen on TV Guide during the late hours of the night bearing new ways to chemically annihilate fat cells in the body in only minutes. Whilst your fat cells are dying your body is probably being severely deprived of nutrition and probably permanently damaged. Toys that come from China contain lead, and I'll bet diet pills made in China are hardly any different. Maybe if the actual workings of the situation were looked at, as opposed to having a tiny pill do it automagically, we would better make our own, much simpler and healthier decisions about our body. Whatever you eat, breathe, absorb, or in general take into your body will have some impact on your health. You don't notice this, and some of you out there may not even believe it- why would one be unable to explicitly notice the effects of these consumed factors? The answer is homeostasis. Your body is configured to maintain an equilibrium. The food that you take in triggers other options in your body, which you usually fail to even notice because they're typically out of our realm of realization. When you eat jelly donuts, your body makes decisions to keep you healthy and limit the glucose or store it in the liver, or release more in a different situation. Such is why you crash from sugar. I may seem to be going off-topic, but I only use this as an example to aid in the simplicity of my point.
Addiction is the result of homeostasis
Consider this: John wakes up consumes 2 caffeine pills, after two days of dosing 2 tablets every few hours. At this point, John's body has begun adapting to caffeine's presence, and tolerance begins to occur. This is the result of the body utilizing more adenosine receptors in response to caffeine's antagonistic effect on them. This means that the body is attempting to go back to equilibrium: receptors chemically 'blocked' by caffeine are replaced by new ones. The body is brilliant, but it is not self-aware. Well it kind of is, but my point is this: the body sees the changes that this chemical makes and, upon continuous reuse, the body sees the changes from the drug as permanent, in a way it is unaware of the drug, only 'tricked' by it, and the body makes physical changes to maintain homeostasis. This is a problem: changes have been made. Now, more caffeine is required to efficiently antagonize the new adenosine receptors, and tolerance continues to increase. Not only that, but if the drug is discontinued, the body is left with hyper-agonized adenosine receptors as the caffeine is suddenly gone as well as it's 'numbing' effect on the receptors. Hence, withdrawal symptoms occur while the body must re-situate itself and undo the changes made to compensate for the drug's action. It's relatively similar, regardless of the drug. Drugs have effects on certain cells, and the body physically creates or destroys those cells to compensate and attempt to return to normal functionality.
American Psychological Association (APA):
addiction. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved March 05, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/addiction
Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
addiction. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/addiction (accessed: March 05, 2008).
Modern Language Association (MLA):
"addiction." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 05 Mar. 2008. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/addiction>.