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What Part Of The Brain Do Drugs Affect

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The Dangers Of Stimulants To A Users Brain

How do drugs affect the brain? – Sara Garofalo

Stimulants interact with the brains dopamine receptors.

Although stimulants will cause a person to have increased heart rates which can result in cardiac arrest or stroke, the main impact stimulants have on a person is the damage they can cause to their brain. Prolonged use of stimulants can cause permanent brain damage and every time a person abuses a stimulant drug, they are messing up the chemical makeup of their brain.

Since stimulants mainly impact the pleasure system in a persons brain, if a person continues to take stimulants their brain will continue to have large increases in its dopamine levels and then large depletions of it. Over time, a persons brain may no longer be able to create the natural amounts of dopamine needed if a person keeps on altering their dopamine levels from taking a stimulant drug. This can result in a person feeling depressed, having anxiety or having a hard time enjoying pleasurable activities again, even after they quit using the stimulant.

A Note On The Term Narcotics

The term narcotic originally referred medically to any psychoactive compound with sleep-inducing properties. In the United States, it has since become associated with opioids, commonly morphine and heroin and their derivatives. The term is, today, imprecisely defined and typically has negative connotations. When used in a legal context in the United States, the term narcotic drug refers to a substance that is completely prohibited, or one, such as codeine or morphine, that is used in violation of governmental regulation. From a medical standpoint, it is no longer a useful term.

Drug Effects: The Brain The Body And The Mind

Many drugs have serious negative effects on those who abuse them. From all the way to effecting the mind, the body, and brain. People are doing drugs because they think it is fun thing to do and they are doing them because they cannot stop.Drugs Effects: The Brain, the Body, and the MindDrug abuse has risen over the years and it still continues to do so. The brain is the common human body part that gets most of the effect from the drugs the mind tends to make people hallucinate, that comes into

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How Drugs Affect The Brain And Central Nervous System

Mind-altering drugs may slow down or speed up the central nervous system and autonomic functions necessary for living, such as blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, and body temperature. Levels of some of the brains chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, are also impacted by drug abuse, including:

Dopamine:This neurotransmitter regulates moods, enhances pleasure, and is involved with movement, reward and reinforcing behaviors, motivation, and attention.Serotonin:This neurotransmitter is responsible for stabilizing moods and regulating emotions.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid :GABA acts as a natural tranquilizer, mitigating the stress response and lowering anxiety levels as well as slowing down functions of the central nervous system.

Norepinephrine:Similar to adrenaline, norepinephrine is often called the stress hormone, as it speeds up the central nervous system in response to the fight-or-flight response. It also homes focus and attention while increasing energy levels.

How Do Drugs Affect Your Brain

How Marijuana Affects the Brain

Drugs are chemicals. When someone puts these chemicals into their body, either by smoking, injecting, inhaling, or eating them, they tap into the brains communication system and tamper with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Different drugsbecause of their chemical structureswork differently. We know there are at least two ways drugs work in the brain:

  • Imitating the brains natural chemical messengers
  • Overstimulating the reward circuit of the brain

Some drugs, like and heroin, have chemical structures that mimic a neurotransmitter that naturally occurs in our bodies. In fact, these drugs can fool our receptors, lock onto them, and activate the nerve cells. However, they don’t work the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and the neurons wind up sending abnormal messages through the brain, which can cause problems both for our brains and our bodies.

Other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, cause nerve cells to release too much dopamine, a natural neurotransmitter, or prevent the normal recycling of dopamine. This leads to exaggerated messages in the brain, causing problems with communication channels. Its like the difference between someone whispering in your ear versus someone shouting in a microphone.

The High From Drugs/Pleasure Effect

The Repeat Effect

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Effects Of Prescription Opioids And Heroin On The Brain

Opioids work as central nervous system depressants to slow down the brains activity. When taken, opioids attach themselves to the receptors in the brain and mimic the behaviors of a natural neurotransmitter. While this makes opioids effective at blocking pain and creating a calming effect throughout the body, they can also dangerously slow down breathing and heart rate.

Opioid painkillers and heroin are among the most addictive drugs. Dependence on these drugs can form quickly because of their ability to create what users describe as a euphoric high almost instantaneously. While this may be true, the pleasurable high is only part of the reason that opioids are so addictive.

Prescription opioids and heroin are also addictive because they activate the reward center in the brain. In order to activate the reward center, opioids flood your system with the feel-good chemical dopamine. Your mind is wired to remember and seek out the activities that stimulated your reward center and teaches you to do these things again and again to get the same euphoric rush. Due to this, your brain can form a dependence to opioids quite rapidly.

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Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.

  • Pappas, Stephanie. . This Is Your Brain On Drugs . Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
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Areas Of The Brain Affected By Substance Use

While alcohol and drugs affect the entire brain, some regions are more involved with SUD than others. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains the effects of drugs on the brain in the article Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction, which focuses on the overstimulation of three key brain areas: the basal ganglia, the extended amygdala, and the pre-frontal cortex.

  • The basal ganglia, associated with the brains reward system, recognizes pleasurable activities such as enjoying a good meal or having fun with friends. When overstimulated by drug use, though, it loses sensitivity to natural neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. With continued drug use, drugs become the only stimulus that activates this reward center.
  • The extended amygdala is associated with negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and irritability. These are symptoms a person experiences when a substance leaves the bloodstream. To avoid the negative symptoms of withdrawal, individuals often take more drugs, creating a feedback loop.
  • The pre-frontal cortex is the area of the brain that governs decision making, logic, problem-solving, self-control, and impulse control. When this area of the brain is affected by drugs, confusion and poor decisions dominate the cognitive process.

Several drugs, including alcohol, affect the cerebellum. The cerebellum assists with muscle control and coordination, which is why people who have had too many drinks may stumble and weave when they walk.

Why Is Adolescence A Critical Time For Preventing Drug Addiction

How Drugs Affect the Brain

As noted previously, early use of drugs increases a person’s chances of becoming addicted. Remember, drugs change the brainand this can lead to addiction and other serious problems. So, preventing early use of drugs or alcohol may go a long way in reducing these risks.

Risk of drug use increases greatly during times of transition. For an adult, a divorce or loss of a job may increase the risk of drug use. For a teenager, risky times include moving, family divorce, or changing schools.35 When children advance from elementary through middle school, they face new and challenging social, family, and academic situations. Often during this period, children are exposed to substances such as cigarettes and alcohol for the first time. When they enter high school, teens may encounter greater availability of drugs, drug use by older teens, and social activities where drugs are used. When individuals leave high school and live more independently, either in college or as an employed adult, they may find themselves exposed to drug use while separated from the protective structure provided by family and school.

Because the brain is still developing, using drugs at this age has more potential to disrupt brain function in areas critical to motivation, memory, learning, judgment, and behavior control.12

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Lsd Pcp Ketamine And Hallucinogens

A class of drugs that leads to distortions of reality and perceptions, hallucinogens are typically broken down into two maincategories: classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs , perNIDA. It is not certain exactly how these drugs work in the brain however, it is largely understood that they interruptnormal communication between neurotransmitters. Dissociative drugs are believed to disrupt the action of glutamate, a brainchemical that is involved with memories, cognition, emotions, and how people perceive pain. PCP interacts with dopamine aswell, while salvia activates the kappa opioid receptor present on nerve cells, perNIDA. Dissociative drugs can make people feel separate from themselves, their environment, and reality. This can resultin impaired motor functions, auditory and visual distortions, memory loss, anxiety, numbness, and body tremors.

Brain Connections Are Rewired

As the brain continues to adapt to the presence of the drug, regions outside of the reward pathway are also affected. Over time, brain regions responsible for judgment, decision-making, learning, and memory begin to physically change, making certain behaviors hard-wired. In some brain regions, connections between neurons are pruned back. In others, neurons form more connections.

Once these changes take place, drug-seeking behavior becomes driven by habit, almost reflex. The drug user becomes a drug addict.

Drug abuse causes fundamental, long-lasting changes in the brain. –Dr. Glen Hanson

After cocaine use, connections between neurons in the nucleus accumbens, part of the reward pathway, increase in number, size, and strength.

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How Opioids Affect The Brain

Prescription opioids activate receptors in the brain and decrease its pain signals. This receptor interaction is also associated with a release of dopamine into the brain. This can result in feelings of euphoria, elation, or pleasure. When dopamine is released, other areas of the brain react, creates a memory and associates it with pleasure. This is one of the key reasons why many peopleeven those who begin taking these drugs according to a prescriptionmay start to use them in increasing doses. Over the medium and long term, users may need to take higher and higher doses in order to elicit the same high. Eventually, this can help lead to users being addicted to prescription drugs.

Some potential short-term, neurological effects of opioids include:

  • Mood changes.
  • Impaired memory, judgement, and attention.

Over the long term, prescription drug abuse will affect the brain in the following ways:

  • Tolerance: Higher and more doses will need to be taken to achieve the same effects.
  • Drug dependence: Withdrawal symptoms such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and irritability can be unpleasant. The individual may decide to continue taking the drugs to avoid these withdrawal symptoms in an attempt to appear to function normally.

However, there are two ways to stop opioid use comfortably and safely formal detox and substance abuse treatment.

Types Of Prescription Drugs

Drug abuse

Prescription drugs are commonly available in pill or tablet form intended to be taken orally. In some cases, those who misuse or abuse them may try to make such drugs work more quickly by crushing and snorting them. Another way is to dissolve them in water and to inject them so that the effect is immediate.

  • Opioids: These are used to relieve pain via their interaction with opioid receptors throughout the brain. Common examples include Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin, and fentanyl.
  • Sedative, Hypnotics, and Anti-anxiety drugs: This is a broad category of drugs designed to manage anxiety, panic, seizures, or to help in sleep. This is done by increasing inhibitory brain signaling throughout the central nervous system . They can be further subcategorized into the benzodiazepinessuch as Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin the barbituratessuch as phenobarbital and non-benzodiazepine sleep aidssuch as Ambien and Lunesta.
  • Stimulants: These are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and some sleep-related disorders and include the amphetaminessuch as Adderall and Dexedrine, and methylphenidatesuch as Ritalin and Concerta. These act to increase the activity of certain brain neurotransmitters, primarily dopamine and norepinephrine, to achieve the effects of stimulating their central nervous system .

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Whos Most Likely To Become Addicted

Each persons body and brain are different. People also react differently to drugs. Some love the feeling the first time they try it and want more. Others hate it and never try again.

Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. But it can happen to anyone and at any age. Some things may raise your chances of addiction, including:

  • Family history. Your genes are responsible for about half of your odds. If your parents or siblings have problems with alcohol or drugs, youre more likely as well. Women and men are equally likely to become addicted.
  • Early drug use. Childrens brains are still growing, and drug use can change that. So taking drugs at an early age may make you more likely to get addicted when you get older.
  • Mental disorders. If youre depressed, have trouble paying attention, or worry constantly, you have a higher chance of addiction. You may turn to drugs as a way to try to feel better. A history of trauma in your life also makes you more likely to have addiction.
  • Troubled relationships. If you grew up with family troubles and arent close to your parents or siblings, it may raise your chances of addiction.


You may have one or more of these warning signs:

Your Brain On Drugs: How The Damage Is Done And How To Undo It

JourneyPure At The River » Addiction Articles » Your Brain On Drugs: How the Damage Is Done and How to Undo It

The study of the human brain has made great progress in recent years. In 2015, for example, new discoveries were made in the link between the brain and the immune system, new details were revealed about how the brain changes as we age and new insights were gained into the development of depression and diet, loneliness and even Facebook activity.

A more detailed understanding of the complexities of brain science helps us better understand how drugs work in the brain, as well as their long-term implications of drug abuse and addiction on both the brain and the body. Knowing the effects of drugs on the brain can lead to more effective ways of reversing the damage.

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Opioids Effect On The Brain

Opioids have become a national epidemic. In America, more than 130 people die every day from overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioids are highly addictive, whether they are illicit drugs or prescription pain killers.

These drugs are called opioids partly because they activate the opioid receptors on nerve cells, mimicking the effects of pain-relieving chemicals that would otherwise be produced naturally. Opioids, though, also release high levels of dopamine, leading to the intense feelings of euphoria and pleasure caused by other drugs.

Opioids are particularly addictive because long-term use changes the way nerve cells work in the brain even when someone is taking them as prescribed to treat pain.

Why Heroin Causes Dependence

Drugs and the Brain (International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking)

When opioid receptors adapt to heroin and become less responsive, other changes occur that make the brain rely on the drug to function normally. This is called dependence. Without heroin, the opioid receptors of a dependent person act abnormally. This abnormal brain activity causes heroin withdrawal symptoms.

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Informing Drug Prevention And Treatment With Brain Development Science

We contend that brain development science provides a valuable framework for optimizing the effectiveness of prevention and treatment programs and practices. This movement has already started in the context of how this science may help parents be more prevention smart when raising a child . We address some possible applications of brain development science to prevention and treatment, including the parenting issue, below.

What Is A Brain Pathway

A brain pathway is like a power line between two brain regions. A brain pathway is made up of interconnected neurons, and signals travel along them from one area of the brain to another.

Neurotransmitters are molecules that allow a signal to travel from one neuron to another. All drugs of abuse interfere with neurotransmitter signaling in some way. Neurons in different brain pathways use different neurotransmitters. Depending on which neurotransmitters they interfere with, drugs have varied effects in the brain.

To see how drugs of abuse affect the Reward Pathway, visit Mouse Party.

To learn more about the reward pathway, visit The Reward Pathway Reinforces Behavior.

Interconnected neurons form brain pathways, allowing different brain regions to communicate.

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