Your Brain on Drugs: Understanding Drug Addiction - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Your Brain on Drugs: Understanding Drug Addiction


Drugs impact people in different ways and some have a stronger or more immediate detrimental impact than others. Despite the hold that drugs take over a person and the lasting physiological effects they have on the brain, treatment is possible. Utilizing a treatment facility is one way to receive the concentrated rehabilitation efforts that make recovery possible. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Your Brain on Drugs: Understanding Drug Addiction

Understanding Drug Addiction
  • The brains many parts coordinate and perform all
    of the functions that make our daily lives
    possible. When drugs are introduced, they alter
    important life-sustaining functions and can drive
    the compulsive drug abuse that leads to
  • The primary areas of the brain affected by drug
    use are
  • the brain stem, which controls basic functions
    critical to life such as breathing and heart
  • the cerebral cortex, which controls our senses
    and ability to think, plan, and solve problems
  • the limbic system, which controls and regulates
    our ability to feel pleasure.
  • Understanding how drugs affect the brain leads to
    understanding addiction and how addiction can be

  • Drugs tap into the brains communication system
    and interfere with how neurons send, receive, and
    process information. Almost all drugs that change
    the way the brain works do so by affecting
    chemical neurotransmission. For example
  • Heroin and LSD mimic the effects of a natural
  • PCP blocks receptors and thus prevents neuronal
    messages from getting through.
  • Cocaine interferes with the molecules that are
    responsible for transporting neurotransmitters
    back into the neurons that released them.
  • Methamphetamine causes neurotransmitters to be
    released in greater amounts than normal.
  • Prolonged drug use changes the brain in
    fundamental and long-lasting ways.

  • Life sustaining activities, such as eating,
    activate a circuit of specialized nerve cells
    devoted to producing and regulating pleasure. One
    set of these nerve cells uses a chemical
    neurotransmitter called dopamine.
  • Dopamine regulates movement, emotion, motivation,
    and feelings of pleasure. Most abused drugs
    target the brains reward system by flooding the
    circuit with dopamine.
  • In a person who does not abuse drugs, this reward
    system is activated at normal levels making a
    person feel good when performing natural
    behaviors. In a person abusing drugs, it is
    highly over-stimulated and produces extremely
    euphoric effects.

  • The brain compensates for the excessive amount of
    dopamine received during drug use by reducing the
    number of dopamine receptors, to dampen the
    response, and increasing the number of dopamine
    transporters that clear out the dopamine.
  • As a result, the brain is less responsive to a
    drug, and next time, a drug user will have a
    higher tolerance and will need more of the drug
    to get high.
  • As another consequence, the pleasure received
    from performing natural behaviors is severely
    diminished to the point of being barely
    noticeable. Drugs become necessary just to bring
    dopamine function back to normal.

  • Addiction is also a consequence of behavioral
    conditioning. When your brain is accustomed to
    the idea that doing something will provide
    pleasure, such as eating dessert, just seeing a
    dessert or thinking about dessert will trigger a
    dopamine response.
  • This is partly why it is difficult for drug
    addicts to stay sober. There are so many sights,
    sounds, and smells associated with getting high
    that make them want to fulfill the urge and get
    the actual high.

  • More of the drug is needed to experience the same
    effects that were once associated with smaller
  • Drugs are used to avoid or relieve withdrawal
    symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia,
    depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
  • Drug use is no longer controllable and is in
    excess of what was planned.
  • A lot of time is spent using and thinking about
    drugs, figuring out how to get drugs, and
    recovering from the drugs effects.
  • Enjoyable hobbies, sports, and socializing are no
    longer participated in.
  • Despite major harm and problems, such as
    blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression,
    and paranoia, drugs are still used.

  • Drug addiction risk is influenced by biology,
    social environment, and the age or stage of
    development. The more risk factors a person has,
    the more likely theyll develop addiction.
  • Biology The genes that people are born with
    combined with environmental influences accounts
    for about half of addiction vulnerability.
    Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence
    of other mental disorders may influence risk.
  • Environment A persons environmental influences
    include family, friends, socioeconomic status,
    and quality of life in general. Factors such as
    peer pressure, physical or sexual abuse, stress,
    and quality of parenting can also greatly
    influence the occurrence of drug abuse.
  • Development Genetic and environmental factors
    interact with critical developmental stages in a
    persons life to affect addiction vulnerability.
    Although taking drugs at any age can lead to
    addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the
    more likely it will progress to more serious

  • Recovery is never out of reach, no matter how
    hopeless a situation seems. Change is possible
    with the right treatment and support and by
    addressing the root cause of the addiction.
    Support is essential and can be received in an
    inpatient or outpatient treatment facility.
  • Recovering from drug addiction is much easier
    when a person has people to lean on for
    encouragement, comfort, and guidance. After the
    initial detoxification, which can be aided with
    medication to suppress withdrawal symptoms, drug
    treatment can include individual and group
    treatment with peers for a concentrated and
    extended period of time.

  • Yellowstone Recovery has been helping people
    break free from drugs and alcohol for over 15
    years and offers Southern Californians affordable
    treatment options, including detoxification,
    inpatient care, extended inpatient care, and
    outpatient care.
  • Website http//
  • Phone (888) 904-3520
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