Addiction and the Brain

As an intricate system of neurons, interconnected circuits, and messages, the brain oversees cognitive and bodily function allowing us to live our lives. Neurons send and receive signals that connect throughout the nervous system, including the brain, the spinal cord, and the rest of the peripheral nervous system. Messages are sent through neurotransmitters across the synaptic gap between neurons and are recycled by transporters.  Substances like drugs and alcohol greatly influence the brain’s function by interfering with its circuitry and preventing full cognitive function. Some drugs can activate neurons, while others mimic the effect of natural chemicals. Altogether, dependence on substances affects the physical and psychological health of those suffering from addiction.  Parts of the Brain  Drugs alter the functioning of various parts of the brain. For instance, the basal ganglia are central to motivation through pleasurable activities which activate a reward circuit. Drugs, like cocaine, over-activate such circuits creating …

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