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What is Drug Addiction?


Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long-lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs.

Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease. Relapse is the return to drug use after an attempt to stop.


The path to drug addiction begins with the voluntary act of taking drugs. But over time, a person's ability to choose not to do so becomes compromised.

Seeking and taking the drug becomes compulsive. This is mostly due to the effects of long-term drug exposure on brain function.


Addiction affects parts of the brain involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and control over behavior.


Addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior.

Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person's brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medicine.

Substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine also are considered drugs.

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