Research indicates that drug use can be linked to a number of negative stimulants that can range from depression and loneliness to peer pressure, self medication, and casual recreation. In some cases, individuals can even be predisposed to use drugs based on their genetic makeup. The subject of addiction, however, is a different story entirely. Addiction is a process that the drug user simply cannot control. If they could, they no doubt would. Addiction occurs, essentially, when the brain’s reward system has become so hijacked that it can only equate the intake of a negative and harmful substance with relief and pleasure. In the beginning, the introduction of a drug affects the brain’s neurotransmitters. These are the organs that tell your body how to feel, and when to feel it. Most drugs, like methamphetamine, LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, and the like, overstimulate the brain and cause it to produce dopamine in excess. Because of this overstimulation, the brain reaches new thresholds of pleasure which, if left unchecked, can trick it into believing that it needs this amount of dopamine in order to function, be happy, etc. At first, the brain usually continues to produce dopamine naturally, and most extremely debilitating effects of the drug may be averted. (In some cases, however, while the brain itself may be alright, the body’s other organs may react differently and cause a wide range of issues. This dispels the myth that using a drug recreationally has no adverse effects.) Over time, and with consistent use, though, the brain becomes dependent on the dopamine produced by the drug, and produces less and less of it on its own. This causes the body to crave more and more of the substance to achieve that high. This stage is known as dependence. Finally, with continued drug use even after the dependency stage, an individual’s brain becomes so warped that it cannot function properly without the substance, and causes the user to crave it above all else. In essence, the brain has replaced a large part of its own function with what the drug provides, and now needs assistance to perform tasks and do things it was once able to do with ease. Addiction itself cannot be controlled, but it can be prevented in the first place by pursuing healthy, stimulating activities and surrounding yourself with people who will discourage you from using altogether. If you do become addicted, however, recovery centers and professionals have the tools to help assess, treat, and correct the issue to allow you to lead a drug-free life again!