Image of head showing the brain©istock.com/janulla

Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. Each person's body and brain are different. People react to drugs differently. There's no rule about how soon someone becomes addicted. It can happen quickly or take time.

People don't plan to get addicted to drugs.

When people 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. But drugs can take away people’s control. Drugs can change the brain.

At first the drugs might make you feel good. But after time you might need to take the drug just to feel normal. You might start taking more just to get the same high. You might keep using the drug, even though it starts hurting your life. You might spend a lot of time trying to get more of the drug. Seeking and using drugs might start hurting your loved ones, but you can’t stop. These are signs of an addiction.

An addiction can take over your life. Taking drugs can become more important than the need to eat or sleep. Getting and using drugs can become all you think about. The addiction can replace all the things you used to enjoy. You might do almost anything to keep taking the drug, like steal or lie.

An addiction is a brain disorder.

  • Drugs can change how the brain works.
  • The brain changes can last for a long time.
  • The changes can cause problems with a person’s behavior. People with a drug addiction might be moody, have memory loss, or even have trouble thinking and making decisions.

An addiction is an illness, just as heart disease and cancer are illnesses. An addiction is not a weakness. It does not mean someone is a bad person. People from all backgrounds can get an addiction. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor. It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn't matter if you went to college or not. An addiction can happen to anyone and at any age. But the chances are higher when a person starts using drug 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?

NEXT: What are some signs and symptoms of someone with a drug use problem?