How Drugs Affect the Brain?


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The human brain, in very simplistic terms, has two parts – the neocortex which is located in front of the head and which receives, processes and stores information for decision making and for remembering.

The other part is the limbic system whose function is to control all the automatic systems of the body and the emotions. It also controls the survival responses, i.e. in a threatening situation it tells you to adopt “fight or flight” responses, i.e., either to defend yourself or run away from the situation.

Drugs and alcohol program the limbic system to avoid uncomfortable situations instead of making healthy responses to resolve the associated stress and the Cortex protects such faulty behavior pattern by a filtering process called denial. The result is the addictive brain.

A communication system exists within the brain whereby the information is received and processed. The individual brain cells or neurons communicate with one another through neurotransmitters or biological messengers. Psychoactive drugs change the normal pattern of communication in two ways:

  • By  imitating the brain’s natural communication
  • By overstimulating the brain’s reward system with dopamine

The chemical structure of drugs like marijuana and heroin is similar to that of neurotransmitters. Thus they can easily deceive the brain receptors and activate nerve cells to send abnormal messages. Cocaine and methamphetamines, on the other hand prevent the recycling of brain chemicals by releasing large amount of neurotransmitters. This blocks the signal between the neurons and the amplified message thus produced, disrupts the normal communication patterns.

Almost all drugs target the dopamine secretion which is normally related with emotions and feelings of pleasure. When overstimulated, it produces euphoric effects in response to drugs thereby reinforcing the habit of abusing drugs.

Artificial stimulation of the brain undoubtedly leads to irreparable damages in the brain cells.

Would you compromise your BRAIN for DRUGS?

Make a healthy choice, stay away from drugs.

Pass it on. Help a friend or a loved one.
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