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Why feeding an addiction becomes a matter of life and death

Far too often, the legal system seeks to impose severe penalties on drug addicts who have been arrested for possession. The thinking goes that addicts are the victims of poor decision making, and the best way to correct their behavior is through incarceration. But the fact is, in the mind of a person who is in the throes of an addiction, taking drugs is not a choice but rather a life-preserving necessity.

You see, drugs have the capacity to alter the human brain in such a way as to completely change an addict's perspective of reality. Over time, addiction manipulates the brain into creating a new operating system that dictates that the consumption of drugs is vital for survival.

Eventually, the brain's function and physical structure are changed, at which point, the addiction is a disease. And even if they should attempt to abstain, the addict will have to fight the feeling they will die if they don't do drugs.

This phenomenon is due to the way in which drugs manipulate the brain's reward pathways that work to trigger the release of dopamine. Dopamine is released naturally in the brain when we engage in activities vital for survival such as eating or socializing.

But addiction will hijack this process and disproportionately reward the use of drugs when releasing dopamine. Thus the act of taking drugs becomes interpreted by the addict as an act of survival. This holds especially true with drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

If you have been arrested on drug possession charges, it is likely that you would be better served receiving help rather than imprisonment. For this reason, you may want to seek the representation of an experienced drug crimes attorney. The attorney could work in an effort to help you get treatment rather than prison time.

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