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July 23, 2018

How Drug Addiction Affects The Brain

 

Drug addiction is not fully understood yet, but scientists are getting closer and closer to determining how drugs affect the brain. Here’s what they’ve discovered:

How The Brain Works

Effective communication is a two-way street: We all have to find the balance between speaking and listening. The same goes for the human brain, which has over 100 billion neurons. Neurons are nerve cells that communicate with each other to transmit information and perform actions. It’s thanks to them that you’re reading this blog!

While the dendrite is the portion of a neuron that receives information, the axon is the part of the neuron that sends out information. How do they communicate? They use electrical signals triggered by neurotransmitters and neuromodulators that consist of chemicals like dopamine, glutamate, and serotonin.

Why Drugs Affect The Brain

The brain is divided into areas, and each of them is responsible for coordinating different functions. Drugs are composed of chemicals that react with the other chemicals already present in your brain, leading to the transmission of abnormal messages through your network of neurons. Put simply, your brain acts like a defective computer because it loses the ability to process information correctly.

Drug abuse affects some brain areas like the brain stem, which is responsible for heart rate, breathing, and sleeping, and the cerebral cortex, which is in charge of your ability to think and make decisions.  

Why Drug Addicts Feel Empty

Another area of the brain affected by drug addiction is the limbic system, where the brain’s reward circuit is located. Here’s how this circuit works: Every time you do something that improves your body or mental health—like socializing or exercising—your brain makes you feel good. This pleasure motivates you to repeat specific behaviors.

However, drugs can also activate the limbic system and cause the same good feeling for a limited time, which contributes to drug addiction. Because these chemical reactions aren’t natural, they force the brain to adapt by producing less dopamine. Consequently, drug addicts often experience depression and a feeling of emptiness: Their brains can no longer process natural rewards in the same way.    

At Centrec Care, we offer treatment to addiction by working on the three components of health: physical, psychological, and emotional. We provide a family atmosphere and we also believe that family members are essential in the healing process. Contact us through our website or by calling (314) 205-8068.

Drug Addiction
About Brian Alwell

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