How Drugs Affect and Damage the Brain



How drugs affect and damage the brain

How Drugs Affect and Damage the Brain

In this blog, we have already covered several times that drugs
can often affect the brain in negative ways. However, we didn’t delve into
much detail about it. Most people know that drugs can have debilitating effects
not only on the brain, but also your overall well-being. Obviously, different
drugs have different side-effects on the brain.

Alcohol and nicotine, even though are legal substances, are
considered drugs. This also explains why the 2014
Global Drug Survey
conducted during November / December 2013 indicates
that alcohol was the drug used most in 2013, ahead of tobacco and cannabis.
Alcohol was also the most common drug to send people to the emergency room, and
the vice that users’ friends and relatives worried most about.

In many countries, cocaine, amphetamines and MDMA often
ranked just behind. Psychoactive drugs are one of the biggest killers of people
in developed parts of the world. The increasing uptake of other preparations
nicotine containing products namely shishas tobacco and electronic cigarettes
demonstrate the pervasive presence of diverse nicotine based products in our
culture. Areas such as North America, Europe and Asia have been severely
impacted with excessive drug use.

Drugs not only impact users, they also impact the users’
family members and society in general. It is important to note that younger
people are more likely to experiment with drugs than older people. Men have
tobacco and alcohol issues more than women. However, more and more women are
using tobacco in developed countries. In fact, in North America, one-third of
men die from tobacco or alcohol related illnesses. Many people try drugs
because they think they can alleviate their stress and pain. Some effects drugs
have on people include: lung cancer, emphysema, liver cirrhosis, as well as
psychological effects such as depression.

A big issue with drugs is that a lot of them are often
addictive, and many users are dependent on them. Not only that, but many drug users
feel like they can’t function without them. What exactly is drug addiction?
According to the Mayo Clinic, drug addiction, also called substance use
disorder, is a dependence on a legal or illegal drug or medication. How does drug addiction affect the
brain? Drugs can affect people’s emotions, perception, thoughts, behavior and
the way they treat their loved ones. It is important to note there are signs
that a person is drug dependent. For example, they have a strong compulsion to
take the drug. Sometimes drug dependents stop doing other activities. Lastly,
drug users tend to insist that the drug is not hurting them in any way, they
think that the drugs are actually benefiting them.

Drugs change
communication between brain cells. Neurons (individual cells) communicate with
each other via neurotransmitters. Believe it or not, some psychoactive drugs
can exactly mimic effects of neurotransmitters. Each part of the brain has a
specialized function. The hindbrain controls our breathing. The midbrain
controls motivations and learning through stimuli. It reinforces behaviors
pleasurable activities which sadly, include drug dependence. The forebrain
helps with planning and memories. Certain parts of the forebrain induce cravings
in drug users.