By Michael Falade

Addiction is the state of absolute dependency on a particular substance or thing. It is the condition of being obsessed with or enslaved by a habit. It is a compulsion, an engrossment, an overwhelming engagement in a practice despite the harmful consequences.

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Once a conscious decision, substance dependence often leaves its victim with no say or option after a while, due to its side effect on the brain. With time, it becomes a compulsive action and eventually a set back to the health, financial and social life of the addict. It’s important to know that we are replicas of our individual brains. Your brain is who you are.

The brain is the center of the nervous system. It is the centre of creativity, social interaction, emotion and feelings, planning, memory, ability to learn… and coordination. Your brain allows you to move, see, speak, feel, breathe and think. All of these life sustaining functions eventually get altered by substance dependence. This explains the reason for flatness, emptiness and depression in an addict’s life.

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Diseases screw up the normality of body organs. Like every other disease, addiction screws up the normal functioning of the brain. Once addictive substances flood the brain, they interfere with its normal in and out activities. Personally, I call this “brain hijacking” because it makes the individual lose control over his/her actions.

Being under the influence of addictive substances can be likened to a recruit who is nothing but a dictate of the Commander General, even at the expense of his life. Addiction is a deadly Commander General because it takes into its hostage almost everything that’s connected to the brain.

Scientists have shown that addiction is a chronic and complex brain disorder. Addiction is not just a moral decision that can be turned on or off at will. It actually changes the brain mechanism and it will take a great deal of work to get such brain back to its normal state. This is why addicts find it hard to stop being dependent on substances even when they sincerely wish to quit, the adverse consequence on their health and entire life notwithstanding.

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In the quest of pursuing help and rendering help to an addict, we all need to understand that quitting substance dependence is not a day’s job. It takes concerted effort, but it’s worth it.

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