If you’re addicted, someone you know is addicted, or you’ve been addicted in the past, then the first step of becoming sober and recovering from this addiction is understanding it. Learning how drugs affect your brain, in particular, can help you to understand why certain drugs have you feeling a certain way. With this knowledge equipped, you can begin your recovery process. This article will discuss the brain and how drugs can affect its processes.
Your brain is essentially the reason you’re living. It’s why, during all of those zombie shows and flicks, they always say to go for the brain. It is the primary organ that essentially acts like your own mission control. It tells your body when you need to eat, how to move, how to speak, what feels warm and cold, and so on. Your brain never takes a day off and is functioning even while you sleep. It’s also made up of a few crucial parts that drugs tend to affect.
The brain stem is what links the brain to your spinal cord. It signals the body to move. The stem is also responsible for all of the functions and processes that keep you alive such as breathing, blood flow, food digestion, and other equally important functions.
The limbic system essentially links together all of the structures in the brain that control your emotional responses. When you take a bite of something that you think taste foods, that’s your limbic system telling your brain that it finds the experience pleasurable. This is done in an effort to repeat the behavior, so you continue to feed yourself and thus give your body nutrition.
The cerebral cortex is essentially the part of the brain that you think of the brain. It has four lobes that each have their own jobs. It also helps you break down your senses into information.
How Drugs Affect The Brain
Drugs, essentially, rework the messengers that live within your brain, so that they are constantly being diverted to the pleasure circuit. The chemicals from drugs essentially hijack these messengers and ensure that they divert the feelings you receive from those drugs into pleasurable ones. Because your brain is wired in such a way to repeat pleasurable activities, your brain thus tells your body that it craves that pleasurable feeling again. And then again.
Because of this repeat behavior, however, certain messengers or chemicals naturally produced in the brain are turned off or die. Take dopamine, for example. If there’s too much in the brain, the pathways that produce dopamine will be turned off, perhaps even permanently. This leaves you feeling depressed and listless. In order to feel happy or that sense of pleasure again, your only outlet is drugs which forces dopamine to be produced in your brain once again.
Because of this forced production, and especially over extended use of the drug, your brain’s messengers and activity can be altered forever. Even after you’ve stopped taking drugs, the toll may have been too much on your brain already. It is because of this hijacking of the brain that addiction is powerful.