Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction (severe substance use disorder) have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. They keep using alcohol or a drug even when they know it will cause problems. Yet a number of effective treatments are available and people can recover from addiction and lead normal, productive lives.
What Is Addiction?
People with a substance use disorder have distorted thinking, behavior and body functions. Changes in the brain’s wiring are what cause people to have intense cravings for the drug and make it hard to stop using the drug. Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory and behavior control.
These substances can cause harmful changes in how the brain functions. These changes can last long after the immediate effects of the drug — the intoxication. Intoxication is the intense pleasure, calm, increased senses or a high caused by the drug. Intoxication symptoms are different for each substance.
Over time people with addiction build up a tolerance, meaning they need larger amounts to feel the effects.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons, including:
- to feel good — feeling of pleasure, “high”
- to feel better — e.g., relieve stress
- to do better — improve performance
- curiosity and peer pressure
People with addictive disorders may be aware of their problem, but be unable to stop it even if they want to. The addiction may cause health problems as well as problems at work and with family members and friends. The misuse of drugs and alcohol is the leading cause of preventable illnesses and premature death.
It can be tough to face the possibility that your child has a learning disorder. No parents want to see their children suffer. You may wonder what it could mean for your child’s future, or worry about how your kid will make it through school. Perhaps you’re concerned that by calling attention to your child’s learning problems they might be labeled “slow” or assigned to a less challenging class.
But the important thing to remember is that most kids with learning disabilities are just as smart as everyone else. They just need to be taught in ways that are tailored to their unique learning styles. By learning more about learning disabilities in general, and your child’s learning difficulties in particular, you can help pave the way for success at school and beyond.
Symptoms of substance use disorder
- Impaired control: a craving or strong urge to use the substance; desire or failed attempts to cut down or control substance use
- Social problems: substance use causes failure to complete major tasks at work, school or home; social, work or leisure activities are given up or cut back because of substance use
- Risky use: substance is used in risky settings; continued use despite known problems
- Drug effects: tolerance (need for larger amounts to get the same effect); withdrawal symptoms (different for each substance)
Many people experience both mental illness and addiction. The mental illness may be present before the addiction. Or the addiction may trigger or make a mental disorder worse.
Dr. Laura Jansons
Dr. Jansons is in private practice in Arlington Heights, Illinois. She provides neuropsychological assessment for adults and children and is growing her neuorotherapy and neurofeedback clinic. She has been providing direct therapy, assessment, professional training, and scholarly contributions in her field since 1990.
Dr. Jansons began her career at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology and master’s degree in Human Developmental Counseling. Her doctorate is from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and she completed her Neuropsychology Certificate Training at Fielding Graduate University. She is a Board-Certified Fellow of the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology. She is also Board Certified in Neurofeedback with the Board Certification International Alliance (BCIA).
Dr. Jansons’ research interests are in Large Scale Brain Systems, neural network dynamics, and cerebellar and vertically organized brain functioning. She is a co-partner in many projects including a start-up company for developing a web portal for patients and advanced clinicians, and she participates in the technical development of custom brain entertainment therapies. She is also a performing musician.