It wasn’t until recently that the illness of addiction has been seen as an illness of the brain. In other words, addiction can have such a severe effect on the brain that it can continue to deteriorate one’s life. This article will review the relationship between addiction and the functioning of the brain.
Brain research has revealed that a healthy brain is one that can continue to make new neural connections and release old ones. The connections between neurons are important in a person’s learning, behavior, communication, memory formation, mood regulation, and overall mental health. Yet, when a drug enters the brain, it locks onto the receptors and activates the nerve cells. However, because the drug is not the neurotransmitter that is intended for that receptor, the neurons end up sending abnormal messages throughout the brain. Of course, this leads to hallucination, abnormal thoughts, and change in perception.
And this is precisely what brings pleasure. It’s fun at first to feel a buzz from alcohol or a high from marijuana. These experiences lead us to go back again and again for more of those pleasurable experiences. But returning again and again to a drug begins to create a physical and psychological dependency, and this is where the trouble starts.