When you use addictive substances, addiction can happen at any time—even if you only drink or use sometimes. Very few people start out using drugs or alcohol with the intention of becoming addicted. Most people set out to only use occasionally.
However, addiction is a chronic brain disease—meaning that substance use changes your brain. It throws the reward system off balance, making you crave the substance or the first high. After a while, you may start to seek out and use the substance compulsively.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “What is unique about the type of brain disease that results from drug abuse is that it starts out as voluntary behavior. But once continued use of an addictive drug brings about structural and functional changes in the brain that cause compulsive use, the disease-ravaged brain of a drug user closely resembles that of people with other kinds of brain diseases.”
Whether or not you will become addicted depends on a number of factors, including genetic predisposal, environmental factors like access to drugs or history of trauma, and more. However, when you’re dealing with addictive substances, hoping these factors will be on your side is a little like playing Russian roulette. In fact, according to NIDA, “a vast body of hard evidence shows that it is virtually inevitable that prolonged drug use will lead to addiction.”
In short, using drugs or alcohol occasionally doesn’t always lead to addiction, but it can and often does. Additionally, if you are wondering whether you have a substance use problem, chances are it is affecting your life negatively. You don’t have to hit rock bottom to benefit from a life in recovery.
If you are struggling with your substance use or a mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build healthy coping skills and a life in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.