People don't plan to get addicted to drugs, but when they first take a drug, they might like how it makes them feel. They believe they can control how much and how often they take the drug. However, drugs can change the brain. Those who used drugs in the beginning to feel good, now may need to take drugs just to feel normal. They may also seek and take drugs even if it causes problems for themselves and their loved ones. Some people may even take higher doses of drugs or more of them. These are signs of an addiction, and it can quickly take over a person's life.

For some people with severe addictions, taking drugs can become more important than the need to eat or sleep. The urge to get and use the drug can fill every moment of a person's life. The addiction can replace all the things the person used to enjoy. Some people who are addicted may do almost anything—lying, stealing—to keep taking the drug.

Addiction is a long-lasting brain disorder.

  • Drugs can change how the brain works.
  • These brain changes can last for a long time.
  • They can cause problems with a person’s behavior like being moody, having memory loss, or even having trouble thinking and making decisions.

Addiction is an illness, just as heart disease and cancer are illnesses. Addiction is not simply a weakness. It does not mean someone is a bad person. People from all backgrounds (poor/rich, went to college/didn’t finish school, and so on) can get an addiction. Addiction can happen to anyone and at any age, but the chances are higher when a person starts drug use when they're young. Read more about other things that make someone more likely to become addicted on the Easy-to-Read Drug Facts webpage, What Makes Someone More Likely to Get Addicted?