There are different reasons why people get started with drugs. But once someone starts using, there is scientific reason why they get addicted. It’s not just lack of will power on that person’s part. Rather, it’s a chemical imbalance caused by extended drug use. Understanding the science behind the way drugs affect your brain and how this connects with addiction will help one’s road to recovery.
The brain is comprised of many different nerve cells called neurons. Neurons are what enable us to control cognition, muscle movement, sensory information and emotions. They connect with one another through a synapse, which releases neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters connect to other neurons called receptors, which can either block or send neurons from sending their own signal. The effect of the neurotransmitter depends on the type of receptor to which it binds.
Drugs impact our brains by affecting the brain’s chemistry. Different drugs have different methods of altering brain’s chemistry. Drugs like marijuana and heroin are similar to neurotransmitters and can bind to the neurons. Other drugs like cocaine and amphetamines stimulate neurons, releasing abnormal amounts of neurotransmitters.
Why is This Bad?
The problem with these artificial synapses is that your body starts to get used to them. Then you start to reduce the number of receptors for neurotransmitters. This is what causes a tolerance to drugs. In order to feel normal, you need to use drugs to reach the same levels that you naturally felt before drugs.
Because your brain has made this adjustment, neglecting to feed it drugs causes an imbalance with your brain’s chemistry. This is what drug dependence is and what leads to withdrawals.
In Layman’s Terms
In case you got confused with all the neuron, neurotransmitter talk, this is what the science is like, using a basketball game as an example. Normally, the game is 5 on 5. This is how you normally function. But if you were to use cocaine, all of a sudden, the game is now 20 on 5. You’re feeling great because you’re winning because you have four times the players and once you get used to this, you always want to win because it’s 20 on 5. But once you go back to 5 on 5, it doesn’t feel right. You want to get back to that 20 on 5 feeling. And that’s what drug tolerance and dependence is like.
The science behind drug addiction is what makes recovery so difficult. It’s not as easy as wanting to stop. That’s why drug rehab programs like Prominence Treatment Center are essential. We help manage and care for those who have an addiction both at a physical and emotional level. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you believe that you or someone you know might need help with addiction.