Substance Abuse and the Brain

substance abuse brainSubstance abuse refers to the overuse of drugs, chemicals or food. Substance abuse is, tragically, a common problem in every society across the globe. Every culture has members who drink in excess, ruin their reputations with drug use and overeat. The reasons that people do this are complex, but they always come down to the desire to stimulate brain chemicals that signify pleasure. Recent studies indicate that the pleasure chemical dopamine, which is released in the brain, is stunted or inhibited in some people, causing them to seek out ways of creating more dopamine.

This unchecked pursuit of dopamine often leads to substance abuse and addiction. A person will overuse food, drugs or alcohol to the point that they are unhealthy and putting themselves in jeopardy. It is very common for people to lose jobs, scholarships, relationships and respect because of substance abuse issues. Substance abuse always comes with behavior problems, broken thought patterns and unhealthy decision making.

The way that substance abuse affects the brain is profound. Although substances that alter the mind have the temporary reward of mood alteration, they also have the long term effect of mental and physical deterioration. The golden rule of “everything in moderation’ is broken in substance abuse, causing a chemical imbalance. Any chemical imbalance will have an eventual negative affect on the brain. The chemical composition of what is put in the body reshapes the brain, for better or worse. When the individual is ingesting brain healthy substances that contain vitamins and nutrients, as well as living a healthy lifestyle, the brain will function at its optimal level. If a person is ingesting harmful substances that contain toxins, the brain will deteriorate over time. A consistent flood of toxins will make the brain function differently, weakening certain areas, changing the patterns of activity in other areas and inhibiting over all brain function. A drug or alcoholism recovery is essential to reversing the damage done by susbtance abuse.

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