When it comes to drug addiction, there’s a debate as to whether that addiction is genetic, society-induced, or otherwise environmental. Regardless, drug abuse is a mounting problem in the United States that needs to be addressed.
Watch Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, talk about whether drug abuse is a disease or whether it just reflects a social problem:
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“What we’re seeing in the U.S. is very high rates of substance use among a wide range of populations, particularly among young people – higher than most countries in the rest of the world,” Volkow said. “That is a problem we need to face a a nation because of its devastating consequences.”
Volkow said drug abuse is not only a disease – there are changes in the brain that modify your behavior when you’re actually addicted – but social factors come into play, as well. “They are not exclusive,” she said. Much like the problem of obesity, she said, “access to certain foods, like access to certain drugs, is something that can be regulated by a social structure and influenced by the culture, and that could either facilitate or protect you against taking drugs, or overeating in the case of obesity.”
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