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Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Substances, While Others Do Not?

As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing a Substance Use Disorder differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to substances. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking substances will lead to continued substance use and addiction. Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce a person’s risk. Risk and protective factors may be either environmental or biological. […]

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How Do Substances Work in the Brain to Produce Pleasure?

Nearly all substances directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. When activated at normal levels, this system rewards our natural behaviors. Overstimulating the system with substance, however, produces effects which strongly reinforce the behavior of substance use, teaching the person to repeat it. […]

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National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS)

The National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) was first funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2014 as an expansion of its longstanding Community Epidemiology Workgroup (CEWG). Ongoing data collection will provide an integrated and comprehensive characterization of drug use and availability by synthesizing traditional, indirect sources with new, direct sources of data, as well as on-the-ground epidemiologic investigations within high-priority areas of concern. […]

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Alcohol

People may drink to socialize, celebrate, or relax. Alcohol often has a strong effect on people—and throughout history, people have struggled to understand and manage alcohol’s power. Why does alcohol cause people to act and feel differently? How much is too much? […]

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Understanding the Basics of Substance Use Disorders

Substance Use Disorder is not a choice. Nobody is born with the idea that they want to choose to become addicted and lose control over their desire, intense desire to take substances. It’s something that you may have the vulnerability because actually, you have a genetic risk, family history, or because you have a very stressful environmental upbringing. The choice starts, and again it’s relative when you are exposed for the first time to the substance. And then some people become addicted and others do not. And that’s where a lot of the research is going. To try to understand what are the differences in that transition. […]

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Understanding Relapse

A person who’s trying to stop using substances can make mistakes, feel bad, and start using again. This return to substance use is called a relapse. Relapse is common and normal and happens to a lot of people recovering from substance use disorders. People will often have one or more relapses along the way. It takes practice to learn how to live without using substances. […]

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Substance Use in Youth: What Are Risk Factors and Protective Factors?

Risk and protective factors can affect children at different stages of their lives. At each stage, risks occur that can be changed through prevention intervention. Early childhood risks, such as aggressive behavior, can be changed or prevented with family, school, and community interventions that focus on helping children develop appropriate, positive behaviors. If not addressed, negative behaviors can lead to more risks, such as academic failure and social difficulties, which put children at further risk for later substance use. […]

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How Science Has Revolutionized the Understanding of Substance Use

Today, thanks to science, our views and our responses to addiction and the broader spectrum of substance use disorders have changed dramatically. Groundbreaking discoveries about the brain have revolutionized our understanding of compulsive substance use, enabling us to respond effectively to the problem. […]

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Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Other Mental Illnesses

Substance use disorders change the brain in fundamental ways, changing a person’s normal needs and desires and replacing them with new priorities connected with seeking and using the substance. This results in compulsive behaviors that weaken the ability to control impulses, despite the negative consequences, and are similar to hallmarks of other mental illnesses. […]

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Women and substance use

Gender-related substance use treatment should attend not only to biological differences but also to social and environmental factors, all of which can influence the motivations for substance use, the reasons for seeking treatment, the types of environments where treatment is obtained, the treatments that are most effective, and the consequences of not receiving treatment. […]

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Substance Use and SUDs in LGBTQ* Populations

People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) often face social stigma, discrimination, and other challenges not encountered by people who identify as heterosexual. They also face a greater risk of harassment and violence. As a result of these and other stressors, sexual minorities are at increased risk for various behavioral health issues.

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