Your brain is your body’s computer. It uses neurons to send and receive messages throughout the central nervous system, including the spine. Nerves branch out from this central system and run throughout the body. They receive messages from the brain that tell them what to do. Therefore, you know to lift your arm to hail a cab or pucker your lips to ready for a kiss. Without messages from the brain telling it what to do, your body would become confused. It may not know whether to sweat, cry, laugh, or sleep. Drug abuse interferes with the way the brain sends messages to the rest of your body. In part, this issue is why addiction causes people to act in ways they usually wouldn’t. Drug abuse affects the brain in three significant ways. For more information, please reach out to Pennsylvania Adult and Teen Challenge today at 844.442.8673.
1. Drug Abuse May Over-Stimulate the Brain’s Reward Center
Certain parts of the brain moderate the happy feelings we have when good things happen. For instance, these good things may include:
- Falling in love
- Getting a promotion at work
- Receiving a hug from your child
- Having sex with your partner
- Working out
Through the basal ganglia, your brain is wired to make your body feel good when these things happen. However, some drugs, opioids especially, overstimulate this area of your brain. As a result, instead of a warm, fuzzy feeling, you may receive a euphoric high, which is unlike anything you’ve ever felt before. The feeling is false, essentially a misfire, but because you’d like to experience it over and over, you may use the drug again and again. Sadly, this area of your brain adapts to the drug, and to feel the unrestrained happiness, you must gradually increase your dosage. Consequently, many people accidentally overdose on opioid drugs, which can lead to death. They’re chasing after that false feeling that everything is right in the world.
2. Drug Abuse May Desensitize the Brain’s Anxiety Control
Other parts of your brain control negative feelings such as anxiety, stress, and irritability. Using drugs can desensitize, or numb, this area. Then, when you stop taking the substance or if you miss a dose, this area comes back to life, and you’re flooded with uncomfortable feelings such as:
These are classic signs of withdrawal from many drugs, including benzodiazepines, alcohol, and stimulants. You feel even and well-tempered as long as you take them, but if you halt, your emotions go haywire, prompting you to keep using your drug to feel normal.
3. Drug Abuse May Impact Self-Control
In your brain, it’s the prefrontal cortex that controls your ability to plan and reason. Without it, you would be unable to make decisions, solve puzzles, or practice self-control. Unfortunately, drugs affect this area of your brain, as well. They can cause a shift of balance between the neurons that make self-control nearly impossible. This shift is the root of your addiction. Using drugs or alcohol may impact your life in negative ways, and though it may alienate friends, cost you your relationships, or cause you to lose your job, you still feel like you have to use the substance. This is because you aren’t really making a choice in the true sense. Instead, your decisions are being controlled by the chemical substance.
Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge Can Help You Recover
If you’re currently struggling with a substance use disorder involving drugs or alcohol, Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge may be the solution. Our faith-based recovery program will teach you the coping skills and recovery behaviors needed to stop using drugs. We’ll help you through detox and withdrawal and onward through recovery. We offer a wide array of treatment programs, including:
- Heroin addiction treatment
- Cocaine addiction treatment
- Opioid addiction treatment
- PCP addiction treatment