The Science of Addiction and Its Conflicting Pleasures

Addiction is a disease.

There isn’t just 1 cause of addiction.

Addiction is a disease. It usually begins as a teenager, or even a child. It’s very similar to other diseases; is blocks the regular, healthy systems of the related organs, resulting in serious, hazardous consequences. Diseases can be diagnosed and are treatable, but are more likely to be reversed the earlier they are discovered. Diseases don’t typically go away by themselves.

Like many other diseases, its impossible to narrow down a single factor to blame when trying to resolve why a person became addicted to drugs.

There isn’t just 1 cause of addiction.

The Pleasure of Addiction

Drugs work by flooding the reward system of the brain with… rewards. Dopamine. A High. Satisfaction. Dopamine is an active compound in the brain that handles how we move, emote, motivate, and experience. At regular levels, our system rewards naturally rewarding experiences, such as sex, eating, or feeling motivated. When drugs are used to overstimulate our reward system, we are pulled into a euphoric world.

It all sounds like a wonderful, natural phenomenon – until you realize that each time you “trick” your brain, you require more and more stimulus to have the same experience. What used to get you buzzed with 1 beer now requires 4.

A man takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the man. – Irish Proverb

Before long, you quickly reach an asymptotic end, finding no fulfillment, but needing more fulfillment to carry on. Every activity of addiction strongly reinforces itself, forcing all but the strong to repeat for another reward.

Why doesn’t everyone become addicted to drugs?

Just like anything else, people react and respond to things differently. Life is simply too complex to predict addiction based on a single risk factor. So, it follows, that the more risk factors a person has, the more likely they’ll fall prey. On the other hand, there are also protective factors that act as a counterbalance. Risk and protective factors are made up of environmental, biological, and developmental aspects.

Risk and Protective Factors for Drug Abuse and Addiction

Risk Factors Protective Factors
Aggressive childhood behaviours Good self-control
Lack of/Unhealthy relationships Positive relationships
Drug experimentation Academic Competence
Access to drugs Anti-drug policies
Community poverty Neighbourhood pride


If you or someone you know has a problem with addiction we’d love to help you. Contact Ledgehill Today and George will give you a call back.