Drug addiction being a disease or not continues to be an ongoing discussion amidst the epidemic sweeping the nation. While some believe that drug addiction is a choice, studies and statements from leading medical institutions are proving otherwise and it’s reshaping our perspective on drug addiction as a whole. The National Institute on Drug Abuse… read more
Devastating Side Effects of Drug in the Brain | West Palm Beach
The Human Brain
The human brain weighs about three pounds made of gray and white matter. It is the most complex organ which controls all activity in the body. The brain helps in regulating all the basic functions of the body. It is also in charge to control all involuntary body motion like breathing, and the senses. Furthermore, it controls emotions, thoughts, and behavior of an individual.
Structure of the human brain
The brain’s structure composes of several parts that function as a tea. Each section of the brain is responsible for performing and managing specific function. However, the introduction of the drug into the brain can alter these areas. Also, drugs affect the life-sustaining function of the brain. These drugs can alter the important function of the brain, these areas include:
The cerebral cortex
This part of the brain is divided into sections that process vital information for the body. The frontal cortex or the forebrain serves as the thinking region of the brain. This section regulates the solving problems ability of the individual. It also manages the decision-making abilities like the ability to plan and to think. The brain also processes information which enables the individual to see, feel, hear, and taste.
This area of the brain controls the critical function of the body. These include the breathing and sleeping functions of the individual. Also, this area regulates the heart rate.
The Limbic system
This part holds the reward system of the brain. It connects brain cells and neurotransmitter. These cells regulate the gratification system of the brain. Also, the limbic system is in charge of the positive and negative sensations.
Healthy lifestyle like exercising and socializing sustained the function of the limbic system. Similarly, drugs can also affect the limbic system, the same way as a healthy lifestyle does. Since the limbic system controls emotions, it justifies the mood-altering side effects of several drugs.
The effect of addiction in the brain
The chemical compositions of drugs interfere with the brain communication system. It disrupts the normal connection of neurons in receiving, sending and processing information. Some specific type of drugs like heroin and marijuana can imitate a natural transmitter. In this way, the drugs can activate neurons in sending ‘altered’ information.
Also, another type of drugs can ‘fool’ brain receptors and in which drugs can also activate neurons. Even though these drugs can imitate the chemicals in the brain, they do not activate neurons naturally. They contain chemicals different from a neurotransmitter. This can lead to unusual messages in the brain system. Drugs like cocaine and amphetamine can result to excessive neurotransmitters in the brain. These drugs prevent the normal function of the chemicals in the system.
How drugs produces feeling of euphoria
Several drugs can cause excessive dopamine production in the brain’s reward system. Dopamine is a chemical that exists within the brain system that controls emotions, movement, motivation and most importantly, feelings of pleasure.
In a normal condition, it provides a feeling of satisfaction in a natural stimulus. However, overstimulation the system with dopamine can produce a rapid intense feeling of euphoria. This exact sensation reinforces the user to take the drugs. Over time, it becomes a compulsive behavior to use drugs because of this effect.
Other unnatural changes in the brain
Long-term consumption of drugs interferes with the brain function that controls emotions and rational thinking related to drug use. Continued drug abuse can lead to tolerance, a major side effect of the disorder. Once users build tolerance for the drug, they need to take higher doses to get the same effect. Also, this can trigger the user to seek and consume the drugs spontaneously. Tolerance may lead to drug overdose because the user is negligent of the doses they take.
Also, prolonged exposure to drugs abuse disrupts the normal reward system of the brain. Drugs can cause overproduction of dopamine. Users may feel less enthusiastic and reduced feeling of pleasure. This happens because the brain adjusts with the presence of dopamine in the system. It can either reduced the production of dopamine or lessen the number of brain receptors to receive messages.
This result to the lower sensation to experience pleasure and users will feel depressed, and lifeless. They find it more difficult to find pleasure from activities or hobbies they previously enjoyed. To get the sensation back they take more drugs to get a large amount dopamine in their brain system. This creates a cycle of addictive behavior.
The brain continuously adapt to the drugs present in the system. Over time, the brain may become impaired with decision-making, learning, and memory. Drugs can alter the connections between neurons which can form more connections. When these changes take place, users will seek their choice of drug and becomes an addict.
The cognitive function of the brain
Drugs abuse can affect another neurotransmitter in the brain known as glutamate. This neurotransmitter can influence the reward system and the ability to learn. When drugs altered a specific amount of glutamate, it can cause cognitive problems. The brain will then adapt to these changes. Users may find it difficult to think and to learn some life-sustaining activities. A long period of abuse can lead to changes in the unconscious memory function of the brain.
Even when users stopped taking drugs, the brain will not immediately return to its normal function. Some drugs have a devastating effect which killed neurons. Unfortunately, the body cannot replace most of these cells. On the other hand, some changes are not permanent but could take months even years before the body can reverse the effect of the drugs.
Severe brain alteration can make it difficult for the user to abstained drug use. They often experience intense cravings which to relapses. A cycle difficult to break without a proper medical treatment.
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