Addiction is commonly mislabeled as a disease of immorality. Addicts are people who have simply lost or abandoned their capability for living morally compassed and honest lives. They are categorized as thieves, liars, con artists, and criminals. Indeed, many addicts do lie, cheat, and steal. They are criminally charged thieves, they are diagnosable pathological liars, and they will con their grandmother out of her last dollar. Of course, this isn’t true of all addicts, but it is true for some. Is it the culture of drug abuse or the character of the drug addict which leads to such behavior? Addiction is not a disease of immorality. However, it is a condition which affects the brain in such a way as to change how the mind prioritizes. As a result, the brain favors drugs and alcohol over any moral matter. Lying and associated behaviors are merely a symptom.
How does the brain get to honouring lying and manipulating over truth telling and authenticity? Substances like drugs and alcohol encourage the production of dopamine when they are ingested. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which lives in the brain. Neurotransmitters are responsible for sending different messages to the rest of the brain. Dopamine, for example, is responsible for communicating when pleasure is being experienced. The more dopamine, the more pleasure, and vice versa. Abusing substances in large quantities produces large amounts of dopamine. That pleasure gets send to the reward center of the brain and eventually the midbrain. Essentially, the brain becomes so excited by the euphoric feelings of pleasure that it desires more. Once that message hits the midbrain, things start shifting. The midbrain is where basic survival functions, like eating and sleeping, are managed. Slowly but surely, getting and using substances rises to the top of the survival chain. Consequently, the brain develops symptoms of withdrawal and methods for making sure it gets what it wants- more substances. Unconscious of this exact process, active addicts and alcoholics fall for the guise of craving. With the onset of withdrawal, they will do anything to make sure they can get the brain and body more drugs or alcohol. That anything often includes lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, deceiving, and more.