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Drug Addiction and the Brain

Essay by   •  February 20, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,066 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,274 Views

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Motivation and the Brain

Drugs can be found anywhere. Drugs can be abused either by prescription or illegally. Either way drugs can have an effect on an individual's brain and the function of the brain. Most people are tempted to use drugs for the excitement and the escape that drugs can offer. Others may take drugs to help alleviate pain. Learning the facts about drugs and what they can do to your brain can help an individual see the risks of abusing drugs.

Psychology and neuroscience have been working together for some time now. They work together to determine how and why behaviors occur in personalities and what would motivate individuals to do what they do. The study of drug addiction is one of the most phenomena that would affect motivation, social interactions, and thought process. Drug addiction studies have benefited from the advances within scanning and imaging technology. Many brain structures are affected when a person uses drugs. Throughout this paper we will take a look at the brain functions and brain structures most affected by a drug addicted individual.

Changes that are physical within the brain are associated with chronic substance abuse. This has a large impact on the brains functions and an emotional state as well. Neuroimaging studies have shown the brain is dramatically changed in structures over long term drug abuse. This affects cravings, withdrawal, tolerance, and can cue relapse even after a successful treatment and abstinence. Drug use causes dopamine production. Our bodies already produce dopamine and when we use and abuse drugs dopamine is produced in large amounts. However in neurochemical studies they have shown that chronic abuse of drugs causes a decrease production in dopamine. This effect is even more pronounced when an individual experiences withdrawals. It is more pronounced during a complete detoxification period. The brain specifically the frontal region which is primarily the orbitofrontal cortex and cingulated gyrus is more affected by the decreases (Volkow, Fowler, & Wang, 2003). This causes a dysfunction in the brains activity within these areas. Drug detoxifications and or drug cravings during functional imaging studies have shown that these frontal regions become active as a part of a complex pattern that include the brains circuit involved with motivation (Volkow, Fowler, & Wang, 2003).

Drug use is typically an act voluntarily done. Chronic abuse can permanently alter the brain causing the brain to function different than an individual who is not using drugs. Extrinsic motivation is what requires an addict to quit using drugs and is necessary to have the addict go to a treatment program (Teens Health from Nemours, 1995). An intervention is through external motivation and often occurs by a loved one. These two types of motivation can be hypothetical based upon the current trend within the addict's life or even based on what is happening around them. The motivators may include loss of a relationship, employment, spousal abuse, health issues, and many more (Teens Health from Nemours, 1995).

Intrinsic motivators can generally be associated with higher success when it comes to long term abstinence. Encouragement of an individual's responsibilities is a very effective motivator for an addict. An increased in the severity of an



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