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Substance Use Disorders

 

Drug and Alcohol addiction is a brain disease.  Although initial drug/alcohol use might be voluntary, drugs of abuse and excessive alcohol use have been shown to alter gene expression and brain circuitry, which in turn affect human behavior.  Once addiction develops, these brain changes interfere with an individual’s ability to make voluntary decisions, leading to compulsive drug/alcohol craving, seeking, and use.  Cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and lung disease can all be the result of drug and alcohol abuse. Some of these effects occur when drugs or alcohol are used at high doses or after prolonged use; however, some may occur after just one use.