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Does Drug Abuse Affect the Brain?

a person sits in the dark is struggling with trying to understand the connection between drug abuse and the brain

The fact that drugs change brain chemistry and alter brain function affecting the areas that control inhibition, logic, sight, hearing, and thought process, is a concept that most people learn at an early age. Elementary and middle students are accustomed to hearing that drugs’ impact on the brain is devastating and the side effects of drug use can have a life-long impact. Understanding how drugs influence the brain can make saying “no” to the temptation to use easier.

However, some people don’t understand the impact of drugs on the brain until they have experienced drug addiction firsthand. Drug use, whether your own or of a family member, can have detrimental effects beyond concentration and coordination. Not only could it cause harm in the short-term with issues such as compromised decision-making skills but even long-term problems like damage to nerve cells and alterations in mood may result from substance use.

At Michael’s House, we offer substance abuse treatment programs to help you or your loved one recover from drug use and learn how to live a drug-free life. To learn more about these programs and the connection between drug abuse and the brain, contact us at 760.548.4032 today.

Drug Abuse in the Brain

The brain is a complex organ with many parts working together. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugs can alter brain parts responsible for coordinating and performing specific functions. This includes life-sustaining functions which can drive the brain to addictive behaviors. The brain areas most commonly affected by drug use include the following:

  • Brain stem – The brain stem is responsible for heart rate, breathing, and sleeping.
  • Cerebral cortex – Controls thinking, senses, and the ability to solve problems and make decisions.
  • Limbic system – The limbic system is the brain’s reward center and links structures that control our ability to feel pleasure. The limbic system is activated by healthy life choices, such as eating, socializing, and drug use.

The brain’s communication system uses neurotransmitters to send messages to its various parts. When the brain is exposed to drugs, these neurotransmitters no longer function as intended. This can be a good thing when a person is in pain and uses prescription pain medication to change how the brain responds to that pain. But when medications have been used for too long or in larger amounts than prescribed, the brain no longer produces its own neurotransmitters and needs the drug to feel and function “normally.” This type of dependence on a substance quickly leads to addiction.

Effects of Drugs on the Brain

Cocaine is a drug that is particularly damaging to healthy brain function. Brain scans of a person who hasn’t used cocaine show a fair amount of activity. The brain scans of a person with a cocaine addiction can show almost no brain function. When that same person stops using cocaine for ten days, there is still minimal brain activity on the scan.

Only after months of abstinence does the brain scan show that brain function is returning. Depending upon the amount of cocaine used and how long the person lived with addiction, the brain may still not function at normal capacity.

Understanding the long-term effects of drugs could help you decide on seeking treatment because of how detrimental they can be. These long-term effects of drugs on the brain can include:

  • Permanent changes in brain structure and function
  • Impaired cognitive ability, including impaired memory, attention span, and decision-making skills
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Depression, anxiety, psychosis, and other mental health problems related to drug use

Seeking treatment at an addiction treatment center like Michael’s House can help you or your loved one recover from drug use and learn how to live a drug-free life. With programs that focus on holistic approaches to drug rehab, such as individualized care, meditation, mindful movement, and physical fitness, we can help you or your loved one heal the body and mind and rebuild the brain’s ability to function without the use of drugs.

Cocaine Addiction Rehab

When it comes to cocaine or stimulant addiction recovery, the physical withdrawal symptoms may be minimal. However, psychological dependence can be incredibly arduous. It hits hard in the first few weeks of recovery and then returns a few months later. This pattern of cravings and compulsive behavior with cocaine addiction, crystal meth addiction, and addiction to prescription stimulant medication means that long-term residential cocaine rehab can be the best choice for individuals with drug addiction.

At Michael’s House, our drug rehab program is designed to help you or your loved one break free from drug use and addiction. With a focus on the root causes of drug use, we can help you or your loved one heal physically and mentally, regain control over drug cravings, and learn healthy coping skills that promote long-term drug addiction recovery.

Drug abuse and the brain is complex, but with the right drug rehab program and support from an addiction treatment center like Michael’s House, you can overcome drug addiction and start living a drug-free life.

Learn More About Drug Addiction Treatment at Michael’s House

The impact of drug abuse and the brain can be devastating, but with the proper drug addiction treatment from a drug rehab program like Michael’s House, you or your loved one can break free from drug use and addiction for good. Contact us today to learn more about our drug treatment programs and get started on your recovery journey.​

With our holistic approach to drug rehab and tailored program options for individuals of all ages, we can help you or your loved one heal from drug addiction. Whether you’re seeking treatment for cocaine, crystal meth, prescription medication, or another drug of dependence, our drug rehab program can help you reclaim your life and start living drug-free. Contact us at Michael’s House today at 760.548.4032 today.