Drugs are chemical substances. When a person uses drugs, regardless of how they’re ingested, they enter the brain and begin to change how we think and behave. Drugs impact three areas of the brain — the cerebral cortex, the limbic system, and the brain stem.
The cerebral cortex is also known as the gray matter of the brain. This portion of the brain makes up about three-quarters of the entire brain mass, and it controls our senses (allowing us to see, feel, taste, and hear).
How Do Drugs Work on the Brain?
The cerebral cortex is the “thinking center” of our brains. The limbic system controls emotional responses, including pleasure and motivation. When a certain activity or experience activates the limbic center, we become motivated to continue with that activity, which is why drug use becomes compulsive over time. The brain stem is an extremely important part of the brain; it is the area that is in charge of all of our essential functions. It controls functions like digesting food, pumping blood, and helping us breathe without thinking about it. The brain communicates with a system of neurons and neurotransmitters.
How Do Drugs Affect the Brain?
When drugs enter the brain, the way these chemical messengers communicate is thrown off. As a result, different drugs have differing impacts on the brain. As of now, scientists and researchers know that drugs work in two distinct ways: they imitate the brain’s naturally occurring chemical messengers and overstimulating the area of the brain that produces feelings of pleasure and euphoria.
If you or someone you know has been using a chemical substance of any kind for longer than several weeks, the brain’s structure will begin to change. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek professional help before the brain becomes permanently damaged. Garden State Treatment Center is available to help. Contact us today to learn more.
How Does Addiction Develop?
When people ingest a chemical substance, whether that be marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, or LSD, they experience a surge of pleasure caused by the release of dopamine — a “feel good” chemical in the brain. Likewise, when we engage in healthy and pleasurable activities, the brain releases dopamine on its own accord, encouraging us to repeat these activities.
For example, when we go on a run, we experience a runner’s high, meaning a significant amount of dopamine is released, and because we feel good after we finish the run, we are more inclined to run again. This activity is good for us, and so our brain is encouraging us to engage in activities that benefit us in the long run. Drugs trick the brain into thinking we are engaging in a healthy and productive activity. Dopamine is released when we use drugs, and the brain remembers this feeling and encourages us to use drugs again. As a result, the desire to use drugs is reinforced, and we start seeking and using drugs compulsively.
More About Addiction Development
Over time we lose all control over the matter, and we continue using drugs even though we might want to stop. This is one of the main indications that an addictive disorder is developing. Other symptoms include continuing to use drugs despite negative consequences, neglecting other previously enjoyed activities, socially isolating, and experiencing a decline in productivity.
If you have attempted to quit using drugs on your own and have found yourself unable to do so, Garden State Treatment Center is available to help. Our drug addiction recovery program helps men and women of all ages overcome addiction while restoring their brains to a healthy state of functioning.
Garden State Treatment Center and Drug Addiction Recovery
If you catch addiction early on, there is a good chance that your brain can be restored to a healthy state of functioning with no permanent damage being done.
At Garden State Treatment Center, we help our clients overcome addiction by teaching them relapse prevention techniques, providing them with intensive therapy, and introducing them to the 12 step model of recovery. In addition, we offer medication-assisted treatment options whenever necessary and help each client develop a thorough and personalized aftercare plan. Contact us today to learn more.