A drugged man Leans back in a chair, sleeping

Drug Abuse to Addiction- Information and Treatment.

Consider the way the Brain adapts and changes under the influence of Drugs; How it changes to become an Addictive Habit and How Treatment can be effective.
“Drug Abuse to Addiction- Information and Treatment” is the First Part of a Two Part Article.

Part Two looks at Self- Help Tips that may help in combating temptation.

Your Brain is You.

Every thought, action, love, fear and experience you have ever felt has been designed, programmed and executed through the activity of this 3- pound/ 6 kilo Information Processing Centre mass of grey matter.

Your phone and computer are controlled by incredibly complex electrical circuits, that complete the tasks they are designed for, in order to produce a result.
Your brain in comparison, makes the most intricate and complex supercomputer look like a tomato with a stick.
Billions of switches (neurons) control the flow of information. Switches are connected to other switches in organised arrangements (circuits) and signal each other as directed by need, desire, process and habit to send information back and forwards.
They can send messages along via interconnecting circuits and networks, in a millisecond.

a drawing of a face with a clockwork brain
The Brain- Who REALLY Knows it?

A switch releases a neurotransmitter (key) into the void (synapses) between it and the cell it’s passing information to.
The key is received by this switch and consequently, the form of the receiving switch changes to accommodate the input.
Transporters (who have the job of returning the key to the switch it came from) can control the signal exchange.
No key- No transportation of Information.

Working as a multi- billion team of synchronised workers in a factory, they all perform their specific duties with coordination. Information is relayed back and forwards, ensuring we live the life we choose, within the natural boundaries.

What do Drugs do to the Brain?

Drugs interfere with the actions of Switches and Transporters.
Some drugs pretend to be Transporters and move keys between switches, activating an abnormal message that is sent through the network. Because these Pretenders are unnatural and improper, they’re action results in the relay of Scrambled information.
Other drugs cause the switches to release more keys than they should, sending wrong and amplified messages into the network. This causes chaos in the system.

The Basal Ganglia

This part of the Brain has the specific task of sorting information in relation to movement and figuring out what the best response is… ‘which hand should I use to catch this ball? How much effort should I exert to jump this puddle?’
It processes the information required to do the task, stores that information for later use and fine tunes it for successful delivery, as every situation demands.
It also plays an important part in Pleasure, establishing routine and forming habits.
This Pleasure Zone (socialising with good friends, sex, fun activities) is on the Reward Circuit.
Do an Action- Receive Pleasure/ Reward- Form a Habit- Establish a Routine.
Drugs over- excite this circuit.
Normal Pleasure and Reward is replaced by Extra Ordinary Pleasure and Extreme Reward.
It feels really good.
But not for long.
The Circuit changes its’ form, adapting to the over- excitement and diminishing it’s sensitivity to the point where Pleasure, natural pleasure is unavailable.
Pleasure can only be had with Drug Stimulation.

The Extended Amygdala

Stress, Anxiety, Unease, Fear; this circuit plays this role to move us away from harm, even perceived harm (like mistaking a garden hose for a snake and reacting).
It also plays a role in interpreting intentions… reading body language, facial expressions and verbal prompts.
Drug abuse affect this circuit. Emotional feeling and connection can be impaired. Reason and Empathy, distorted. Eye contact avoided.
This affects normal relationships and can lead to a life of Instant Gratification, regardless of how others may be impacted.

The Prefrontal Cortex

This powers our ability to plan, solve problems, make decisions, think and control impulses reactions.
Drug abuse affects this circuit, the interconnected network and in some cases, results in severe impairment that may never be repaired. In fact, such impairment can cause someone with such problems to seek and use drugs with a reduced ability to control the impulse and without concern for the consequences to themselves or others.

Some drugs can affect areas of the brain like the Brain Stem.
This controls breathing and the rate of our heart beat.

Dopamine

Man with lightbulb on hiis head, dark glasses on his eyes, stretches out his hands to the chemical structure for Dopamine on a blackboard in the background
Pleasure is Dopamine.

Our brains are Hardwired for Pleasure. Things that make us feel good are tagged by our Reward Circuitry and Dopamine (a Transporter) files that Happy Feeling away within easy access, so that when we want to experience that Pleasurable feeling again, it’s right on top of the pile.
Naturally, our body produces the ‘High’ we experience through good social interactions, fun activity and creative pursuits with the natural release of endorphins (an opioid) and other stimuli.
That’s why we repeat the things we enjoy. We develop a process to go about attaining it and this creates the habit that sustains the Pleasurable feeling.

Drugs over excite the Pleasure Zone.
Drugs release a greater- than- normal Flood of Dopamine.
The result upon our brain is to connect using the drug with the Pleasurable Reward, regardless of the cost.

What Just Happened?

Drugs have adjusted things in the Brain.
Drug use minimises the switches store of ‘keys’. They have less keys to unlock happiness, love, fun, social interaction, empathy. Pleasure,
The Switches that have the task of receiving the keys is also reduced, so less of the signals to show love, to show concern, to show contrition and remorse, to feel Pleasure, are available.

Eventually and within a short period of time, the use of Drugs is the only way to have a measure of Pleasure, a touch of empathy.
Without the Drug, Life is Less. Enjoyment is lost. Depression is a Constant.
More drugs are needed to get the High. What was sufficient yesterday, is not enough today.

TREATMENT

Q. Giving Up Drugs and Living a Healthy Lifestyle: Is it Possible?  

A. Straight Up; it WILL be Hard.

The effects upon the brain and the body is terminal. Even after turning the situation around and managing to give up Drugs, years later, you may stumble in a minute.
Just one.
False reasoning, stress, loss, old friends, old places and situations… in a minute.


That’s why it’s terminal.
Never mind the physical damage.
Things will never return to how they used to be.
The mind is changed. It thinks different, reacts different, sometimes doesn’t react even when you need it to.
But with proper treatment, you can become YOUR better version.

With the Brain Function now trained to seek the fix drugs alone give, it is critical for you to stop drug use and abuse.
In this respect, learn to recognise the triggers that expose your weaknesses.
Put in place strategies to avoid these triggers but also, to cope with them, should you need to.

Right hand thumb and forefinger squeezing the index finger of the Left hand
Create PAIN to take away PAIN

EFFECTIVE TREATMENT CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING:

•          Counselling and other behavioural therapies are common treatments. Use them.

•          Addiction is a treatable disease. You can overcome it.

•          Treatment should consider the WHOLE, not just the Drug Addiction.

•          Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.

•          Effective treatment is not a “One Fits All’ strategy.
It must be tailored to fit You.

•          You need to have quick access to proper help, whenever you need it.

•          Staying in treatment until the completion of your programme, works.

•          The first stage of treatment is only the First.
Stick with the programme to the end.

•          Medication combined with behavioural therapy is proven to work. Stay the Course.

•          Treatment will consider your Mental health.
That’s good! Healthy Mind, Healthy Body.

CONCLUSION TO PART 1

If you break a Leg, you need a Crutch to get you moving.
It will be Slow. And Painful. It will feel Unnatural.
But in the END, the Good that comes from it will be worth it.
Check out this LINK for SOLID Truth from someone who KNOWS;
and take advantage of the Professional Help that is there.
One Step at a Time…

Your Comments Are Invited.

Please Comment. What you have to say can be Important to other people who read this Article. We think it important to encourage discussion and invite you to express your point of view. Please be aware however, that Spam and comments intend to hurt others will be removed.
Like any meaningful conversation, the exchange of ideas is important so I will reply to all comments, within 48 hours.
Thank you in Advance.

Your Health First Logo with the words Your First Wealth is Your Health below it

4 thoughts on “Drug Abuse to Addiction- Information and Treatment.

  1. Hi Hori,

    Nowadays addiction to drugs is one of the biggest problems and we see a lot of family and people’s lives are ruined because of addiction to drugs.

    The information you shared on Dopamine is an eye-opener for me. You not only shared the problems caused by drugs and the reason behind it but you have provided helpful solutions as well. I was amazed when I learned about our brain and this post is so thorough it opened my eyes to all sorts of information I wasn’t aware of!

    I am planning to share this post with my Church youth group and I believe they will find a lot of value from it. In order to grasp all the valuable information you shared I believe one read is not going to be enough so I am bookmarking your post.

    1. Paul, I understand your reaction. So many people (especially those we love) thinks that it is as simple as just ‘Choosing to Stop’. If only it were. Then, people who truly do love their families would not mistreat them nor steal from them nor lie to them nor physically cause them harm. But they do. All because the electrics in the brain have been tampered with. When there was Choice, Change could have followed. When the Brain overcame Choice, Change is given no effective power. Check this link out. Ashley has some good information.

  2. I have been dealing with a drug addicted son for 20 years.  Of all the literature I have read, this article is the most concise in saying what drugs to which part of the brain.  You also give a short statement of how this affects life.  Long technical explanations just don’t work because the average person doesn’t understand them.  With years of experience, I can say that you are right on with your description of the how the brain is affected and how that impacts life.  To a first time reader, your treatment section sounds pessimistic.  It also is right on.  Drugs are terminal.  I hope lots of people see this article.  It is concise, accurate and blunt…. all it needs to be. Thanks.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts. The brain is such a complexity. It is hardly understood and if we manage to use 10% of it, we are considered genius! I remember some time ago thanking a public speaker after an unforgettable discourse. I told him I was not in the league of others in the audience (professionals) but I had an interest and he said a good speaker/ writer aims to reach the heart of the child. He said if the child understands, everyone gets the point. But if we aim to reach the heart of the Man, the child is left, not bored but worse, unaffected. Hence the aim to keep the complex, simple. On another note, I must commend you. I wish I had a Dad who cared when I was addicted. The worst thing was believing no one cared, so what’s the use? 

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