Approximately 23.5 million people in the U.S. have an addiction, so you shouldn’t be too surprised if someone close to you is struggling with drugs or alcohol.

As a friend or relative of an addict, it’s difficult to understand why the person doesn’t just give up the substance. The truth is, though, breaking an addiction is tough. It’s probably one of the hardest things a person will ever accomplish.

You can’t just decide to quit drugs one day and walk away and never use them again. That’s just not how this works.

Drug and alcohol addictions trap people in lifestyles they want to get out of but can’t because of the control these substances have.

Are you interested in learning why it’s so hard to stop using drugs? If so, continue reading to learn the surprising reasons for this.

Drugs Change the Way the Brain Works

If you’ve never had an addiction of any kind, it can be hard to understand how a person can become addicted to drugs or alcohol. You might wonder why they don’t stop using the substance of their choice.

To understand why it’s so hard to break an addiction, you’ll need to learn what drugs and alcohol do to a person’s brain.

Drug addiction

A healthy brain works just fine without adding any substance, like drugs or alcohol. The brain is full of neurons, which are like circuits. The neurons transmit signals over and over, and this is how the brain communicates, thinks, and reacts.

As this occurs, the neurons release neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters manage the chemical releases from the brain.

When a person who is not addicted to drugs does something happy, the brain releases chemicals that trigger joy and happiness.

There are all kinds of different chemicals that the brain releases and these chemicals play a chief role in a person’s moods.

Once a person begins using drugs, significant changes occur in the way the neurons, neurotransmitters, and chemicals operate. Every drug has different effects on these communications.

One common effect of drugs is the “high” users feel after taking drugs. This high occurs because the drug causes the brain to release an overabundance of feel-good chemicals in the brain.

The Brain Becomes Dependent on the Drugs

Over time, the brain forgets how to respond normally, as it is so used to the drugs taking control over its functions. At this point, the brain is completely dependent upon the drugs.

A person who is dependent upon drugs has a brain that cannot produce feel-good chemicals on its own. Therefore, the addict never feels good or normal or right. He or she always feels like something is wrong or missing.

The solution for that, you guessed it – use more drugs. Another hit settles the brain and leaves the addict feeling normal once again.

The Body Reacts When It Doesn’t Get Drugs

A significant part of addiction that most people do not know about is the sickness it causes when a person is withdrawing from it.

A heroin addict, for example, might be accustomed to shooting up three to four times a day. When the addict misses the first shot, he or she will feel it. The addict may start feeling restless, nervous, and miserable.

Drug addiction

If the addict goes longer and skips the next shot too, he or she may start feeling sick. Nausea begins setting in. The addict may start shaking, vomiting, and hallucinating. His or her heart rate might race, and the list goes on and on.

People in addiction often call this “dope sick.” Without getting the drugs they’re used to getting, their bodies react. They need the drug, even though they don’t want to need it.

The withdrawal symptoms are incredibly strong and don’t go away on their own. If a drug user stops using, it may take a week or longer to get past these horrible symptoms.

So what does an addict in this situation do? He or she uses more drugs. Instantly, the sickness is gone, and the addict feels normal.

This is the vicious cycle an addict goes through daily and sometimes multiple times a day, and this is why it’s so hard to stop.

Your Part in Helping Your Loved One Quit Drugs

Friends and relatives of addicts often try to help. I mean, isn’t this how you feel? You’d do anything to help your loved one break his or her addiction. You can consider addiction specialist washington dc or other related places for a better rehab facility and a long-term recovery.

You have to understand, though, that addicts do not break their addictions until they are ready to. There are things you can do, though, and here are some ideas:

• Don’t take responsibility for the addiction or for breaking it
• Avoid enabling the addict in any way
• Research addiction and ways to help an addict
• Evaluate treatment centers and different approaches available

Additionally, you should try to encourage your friend or relative to seek help from an Alcohol Rehab Center. If your friend agrees, he or she might be one step closer to a life of sobriety.

Learning how addiction works and the effects it has on the brain may help you gain a better understanding of why your loved one is struggling to break it. Breaking an addiction is hard to do. It takes work, and it often requires multiple attempts.

Learning Coping Methods Can Help You

If you have a friend or relative that wants to quit drugs, encourage them to get help. People who seek help from a recovery center have a higher chance of getting clean and staying clean.

Rehab 101: How to Choose Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

As a loved one of an addict, you may also need support and encouragement in the role you play. To learn more, visit our site for more information related to breaking an addiction.