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Drugs & Health Blog

Word of the Day: Disease

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This picture is showing us an inside view of the brain from the top down. It compares healthy brain activity (left side, with all the red areas) with diminished brain activity in a drug user (right side).

Sara Bellum

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word disease? You might think of cancer, diabetes, or epilepsy. But do you think of drug abuse? Probably not. But, for some people, drug abuse can lead to a disease called addiction.

A disease is when something in the body doesn't work like it's supposed to-an organ or a whole system has something wrong with it and disrupts functioning. Diseases can be caused by many different factors, from your genes (what you inherited from your parents) to germs and viruses to not getting the vitamins that your body needs to stay healthy.

Some diseases can be cured with medication or changes in lifestyle and may never come back. Others are chronic diseases, meaning they last for a long time or can come back again.

Addiction is a chronic disease. Drugs change the way the brain works, and using them can lead to addiction. Once a person is addicted to a drug, they feel the need to take that drug over and over just to feel like their "normal" self. Tracking down and taking the drug usually becomes more important than eating, sleeping, dating, doing school work, or earning money.

Even if they stop using drugs, people with addiction have brains that have been chemically altered, making them vulnerable to relapse (resuming drug use).

To learn more, take a look at The Science of Addiction. Share something you didn't know before.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


vitamins are definitely something that can help prevent sickness and disease, and if you're body is in harmony with itself, I'm certain it could help prevent addiction as well!

Hi Sara,

Your Blog is excellent!! Interesting you mention in this article that the brain is chemically altered after drug addiction which opens up the potential to go back to old habits.

Your brain activity image is very scary!

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I would have never guessed that drug abuse is actually a disease. This is some very interesting information.

I like the blog it really tells alot. The blog tells what brain disease is and how is affects the brain.

Wow, this article is just shocking, there is a lot of things I didn't know about all of this. For example, the thing about addiction being a disease, i didn't know, because I thought it could be something you could get rid fast. This article was so helpful and taught me a lot of things; for example, I didn't know that Addiction is a chronic disease. Or that drugs change the way the brain works, and using them can lead to addiction, once a person is addicted to a drug, they feel the need to take that drug over and over just to feel like their “normal” self. I hope when people read this article, they get the information I got, and they understand it, so good job!

Nice article.