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Drug Abuse and the Brain



Anyone who has suffered from drug addiction or has watched a loved one suffer from one knows of the devastating effects it can have on one’s life. It is certainly no secret that drug abuse can forever alter a person’s life, often even having fatal consequences. Those who abuse drugs find they are no longer in control of their life and come up short in every component of their health. Perhaps the most damaging effects of drugs influence a person’s brain and its capabilities to function properly, which in turn, leads to shortcomings in emotional, physical, and mental health for the individual. In fact, repeated drug abuse permanently alters the brain’s functions and appearance. Here are just a few ways drugs affect the brain.

 Brain Becomes Dependent on the Drug

Those who suffer from drug addiction often rearrange their priorities for the worse. Drugs can alter the brain so that both the brain and body actually depend on them. These drugs become almost needed for one’s survival. The fact that these drugs often give the brain a sense of being high and care-free doesn’t help matters of dependency, as it is something the addict craves and is willing to get at all costs. A person will likely put them as a top priority, right up there with food, water, and love. As a result, these essential components in one’s life often get left by the wayside while the individual searches for, and devotes all energy, to these drugs. Unfortunately, those who are closest to the drug addict often suffer as much as the individual. Because of the brain’s absolute dependence on the drug, the addict is likely to neglect his or her closest relationships or put loved ones in compromising situations in order to obtain the drug he or she believes is essential to survival.

 Rational Judgment Becomes Inhibited

Another dramatic effect of a brain on drugs is the fact that rational judgment basically becomes non-existent. Because of the dependence discussed earlier, the individual may do things he or she would otherwise not consider. This may include abandoning one’s beliefs in order to obtain the drugs, or it may mean simply engaging in behaviors that are questionable because the brain is not functioning at its normal level. The individual may engage in illegal activities such as theft, which undoubtedly only leads to more problems for the addict. In addition, the addict may simply not be able to control his or her behavior, even if the desire is there.

 Addiction Denial

The fact that the addict is engaged in highly-dangerous behavior is most likely not a surprise to the individual. However, the brain starts to rationalize the behavior when the body craves the illegal substances so strongly. This rationalization can lead to loss of usage judgment, which can lead to grave consequences. The addict may overdose, leading to a potentially fatal situation. The individual may also rationalize that the situation is not that serious and can be stopped at any time. When this happens, loved ones need to step in and seek medical attention for the individual.