Psychoactive Substances – Designed for Addiction

Psychoactive Substances – Designed for Addiction

While it is easy to assume that everyone has the tendency to become addicted to one substance or another, why is it that some people develop significant problems while others are able to simply sample and be done? One consistency in the reality of psychoactive substances is that they manifest themselves in different people in different ways.

Psychoactive substances include depressants and alcohol, drugs within the opioid group such as heroin, morphine, methadone, nicotine and a full range of other drugs. In many situations, the individual taking the substance will develop an addiction because they receive pleasure or satisfaction from the experience and continue to seek more of the substance to try and recreate that experience.

The central nervous system – better known as the brain – operates through chemical reactions that take place over and over again. When narcotics, drugs and alcohol are consumed, these reactions are affected, for better or for worse. In the former, the reaction can be close to euphoria as the user experiences a mild and pleasurable reaction of relaxation.

The experience numbs the individual from negative and stressful feelings and creates a state of mind that can be very peaceful and happy. This mild and pleasurable reaction is one that is often sought time and again. What individuals generally don’t understand is that such a reaction only occurs at the beginning of use when there is no psychological dependence, no physiological tolerance and no withdrawal.

A physical dependence on the substance generally develops due to the influence of the psychoactive substance on the hormones and endorphins responsible for positive emotions and ending pain. When this happens, the psychoactive substance is actually mimicking endorphins.

Endorphins enable an individual to experience joy, happiness, pleasure and satisfaction. They are responsible for ending pain and enabling an individual to relax. Endorphins also work to block the receptors responsible for pain, hunger, thirst and other feelings. A lack of endorphins robs the individual of the ability to resist stressful situations.

When psychoactive substances are used, they substitute the endorphins and stimulate the brain to produce more hormones. In mimicking endorphins, psychoactive substances kill the natural reactions and processes of the central nervous system. As a result, the individual loses the ability to function “normally” without the substance.

The dependence on psychoactive substances can emerge even after the first use. The brain will make a smaller number of endorphins, as it will only create what the body needs. The individual will attempt to restore the lost hormones by substituting the psychoactive substance.

When the substance stops mimicking the endorphins, the pleasure also ends. To keep this end at bay as long as possible, the individual will indulge in more and more of the substance, thereby developing a dependence and eventually, an addiction.


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