How Drugs Affect the Brain



Drugs are chemicals that affect the brain and body in various ways. Abused, they can cause damaging effects on the brain and body’s functions. Even after users have stopped taking them, the effects may still be present in the brain and body, and even cause permanent changes to them.

The Brain on Drugs - from Lawyerology

Ingested, inhaled, or injected, various ways of taking it impacts the person in different ways. Some cause delayed reactions while others cause immediate effects. Nevertheless, abuse of these drugs bring nothing positive.

Drug use can affect not only the brain but the various parts of the body, causing the following:

  • weakened immune system
  • abnormal heart rates, heart attacks, collapsed veins, infected blood vessels and heart valves; cardiovascular problems
  • abdominal problems and pain, nausea, vomiting
  • liver problems causing cirrhosis or liver failure
  • memory loss, attention problems or difficulty concentrating; confusion; problems with decision making and thinking clearly; seizures, stroke; permanent brain damage
  • fluctuations in appetite; rapid weight loss or weight gain

Drug use affects the overall “reward system” of the brain, flooding it with dopamine and causing a spike or abnormal dopamine levels in it. This feeling of euphoria makes users crave the feeling more and more, leading to dependence and addictive behavior.

LSD and Magic Mushrooms (hallucinogenics) make users see, hear and experience their surroundings in a “trippy” way; colors are intensified and more vibrant; sounds and sights may be distorted; users tend to become panicky or paranoid; effects can last for up to 12 hours or more; “bad trips” can become frightening users may experience flashbacks, psychosis or paranoia
Marijuana (cannabis) marijuana makes users relax; users may find it difficult to remember things and events; cause anxiety attacks, paranoia; regular, short-term users may also experience confusion and delusion may cause long-term mental health problems such as psychosis, schizophrenia and depression; users who come from a family with a history of mental problems may be more susceptible to acquiring mental disorders
Cocaine and Crack Cocaine (stimulant) gives a feeling of being “high”, confident and energetic, although these feelings may quickly turn to paranoia, anxiety and panic, ending also in feelings of depression and exhaustion dependent users may find it mentally distressing and physically difficult to stop using; worsens mental health problems and increases potential for depression, anxiety and paranoia
Ecstasy (stimulant with hallucinogenic effects) results in feelings of relaxation, getting “high”, being “loved up” and ready to dance and party all night; those who take high doses get paranoia or what is called “feeling out of it” sleep problems; lack of energy; sudden and huge weight loss; depression or anxiety; dependence on the feeling of euphoria and calmness it brings; changes the levels of serotonin in the brain (the chemical responsible for the feelings of well-being and happiness)
Heroin as with other opiates, it slows down the body’s functions to stop physical and emotional pain; highly addictive, users would need to take more and more doses to get the same effect, or simply feel ‘normal’; huge doses can cause coma or even death painful withdrawal effects; feelings of depression
Ketamine sn anaesthetic that makes users feel relaxed and high; may cause people to be dazed and wander off, or even hurt themselves or get into accidents; makes users feel detached from themselves, other people, and their surroundings; may worsen existing mental health problems may include flashbacks and memory loss, as well as inability to concentrate; psychosis, damage to the bladder
Speed and Crystal Meth (Methamphetamine and amphetamine) makes users feel energetic and confident; may also cause feelings of panic, irritability and paranoia; smoked meth can cause an intense and prolonged high, followed by feelings of hopelessness and sadness permanent depression; inability to think straight, remember things, solve problems, and cope with emotions
Solvents (gases, glues and aerosols) gives users a feeling of intoxicaton; cause hallucinations poison the brain and cause brain damage; difficulty to control emotions, think clearly and remember things
Steroids increase muscle mass; cause ‘roid rage’ which is violence and sexual abuse; difficulty sleeping; confusion, paranoia, depression psychological dependence, where users think they cannot function or perform well without it
Tranquilizers (such as Valium) usually used to relieve anxiety and aid sleep, abusers take them in order to come down from other drugs such as cocaine and speed highly and quickly addictive, it can cause withdrawal symptoms where users will feel anxious and sick, be unable to sleep, or even have serious convulsions


The Brain on Drugs - from Brainless Tales

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