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Understanding Drug Addiction Includes Awareness Of Brain Damage

Understanding Drug Addiction Includes Awareness Of Brain Damage

When an individual is addicted to drugs, such a person has developed a chronic brain disease. This is why you have the impulse to compulsively seek out drugs even though you’re fully aware of the harmful effects they can cause. Your choice to take drugs was initially voluntary. You had the will to decline without having an ill effect from doing so. However, after you take drugs for a long period of time, you become addicted and you can no longer refuse drugs without having withdrawal symptoms. Why is it so hard to quit taking drugs? What causes these symptoms?

Drugs and the brain

Drugs change the way your brain works. This change is what causes you to be unable to resist the urge or impulse to take drugs. You begin to feel fully dependent on these drugs and feel like you cannot do without them. You begin to see them as a need or necessity. This is why it is often difficult to stop the use of drugs without medical help. You should be aware of the changes that occur in your brain when you are on drugs. There is more to the story behind what happens to the brain…

Behind the scenes

  1. The journey

Chemicals from drugs cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain. When these chemicals enter the brain, they begin their journey to alter the chemical composition of your brain. This brings about an ‘upset of balance’ in the communication process causing lots of irregularities. When this occurs, your nerve cells won’t be receiving, processing or sending information the way they should.

  1. The mechanism

There are two ways drugs can bring about this distortion. Some drugs imitate the natural chemicals of the brain and trick the body into reacting in a different way. Some drugs can also overstimulate the part of the brain that feels rewarded. Since you felt good the first time, you become hooked to the drugs because of the rewards. Different drugs work in different ways.

  1. Tolerance

The main problem with taking these drugs is that they do not always elicit the same effect. When the brain realizes that it will receive large amounts of reward chemicals, it begins to desire more and more of the chemicals to get the same feeling. This tolerance that your brain develops causes you to take higher doses to get the same feeling as the first time. It is this abuse of drugs that have made many addicts hospitalized, even leading to the death of some. It is important to note that you can build a tolerance after the very first time you take a drug.

  1. Effect and aftermath

There are long-term changes in the brain during drug abuse. The brain usually tries to compensate for the loss or alteration of glutamate (a chemical that helps you concentrate). This could make you have impaired cognitive function. Basically, you may have delayed reflexes or respond more slowly than usual. You will also have a hard time reasoning and understanding the situations you’re in. You will also not be able to make the right judgment in a situation, you will have a hard time making a decision, and have behavioral control problems. Drugs also influence your memory or learning abilities.

Alteration of all these normal processes will only drive a drug user to take more and more of the drug, even though it is dangerous.


Some people get addicted to drugs faster than others. But it is however important to understand that taking drugs as an adolescent can have more serious consequences. Since your brain is still developing and changing, any alteration could be permanent. Drugs will cause you much more harm than good. If you or your loved one is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction why not contact us?

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