Addiction is an incredibly complex problem that affects nearly every part of the body. However, the brain is one of the most affected areas and unfortunately, drug use can become a cyclical problem due to the way that it affects the brain.
Substance abuse affects multiple parts of the brain. Three of the most affected parts of the brain include the basal ganglia, the amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex.
The basal ganglia are one part of the brain that is involved in controlling the reward circuit and contributes to the pleasure effects that some people can feel. For instance, when consuming good foods or doing an activity you enjoy, the basal ganglia will produce feelings of pleasure.
Unfortunately, using drugs and alcohol can lead to major problems and changes with the reward circuit in the brain. In fact, repeated exposure to drugs can cause the circuit to adapt to the presence of the drug and make it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides the drug.
The amygdala portion of the brain is involved in stress management and also helps with feelings of anxiety and uneasiness. It is one of the reasons that humans have their “fight or flight” response. When it comes to drug addiction and substance abuse, this stress circuit can cause people to continue using substances due to the withdrawal symptoms and related problems. Over time a person with a substance use disorder can continue to use them only to escape the withdrawal symptoms rather than get the high associated with drugs.
The prefrontal cortex is an important area in the brain when it comes to a person’s ability to think, plan, and solve problems. It is located at the very front of the brain and is responsible for complex cognitive processes.It chances someone’s ability to organize thoughts and activities, prioritize tasks, manage time, make decisions, and deal with impulses that you may be facing. This poses an obvious problem for people who use drugs. Using drugs excessively can lead to drug-seeking behavior and reduce impulse control when they are around drugs and alcohol.
Addiction is a disease and if not treated, it can lead to major problems including withdrawal, overdose, and even deaths. Luckily, finding a treatment center or rehab can help patients with their specific problems. Diseases like addiction are something that requires professional help to fix, it can be too difficult and dangerous to accomplish on your own.