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Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Brain

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Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Brain Addiction is a complex phenomenon with important psychological consequences. There are many factors that influence our behavior. Everyday teenagers are faced with life changing decisions to make including the use of drugs and alcohol. What many adolescents do not realize are the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain. Illegal substances can be consumed in various ways. For substances to exert their effects, they must first get to the brain. The four common ways of administration are oral consumption, intranasal consumption, inhalation through the lungs, and intravenous use. To enter the brain a substance's elements must first get through a chemical protection system. This consists of the blood brain barrier along with a tight cell-wall and layers of cells around the blood vessels. Small neutral molecules, like those of amphetamines, can easily pass through the barriers and enter the brain. At that time, the substances begin to cause their psychoactive effects. Stimulants are several groups of drugs that tend to increase alertness and physical activity. These groups include pharmaceuticals such as amphetamines and the street drugs commonly called "uppers" or "speed," and cocaine (Stimulants). ...read more.


As dosage increases, depressants begin to affect the portions of the brain that control the body's automatic, unconscious processes, such as heartbeat and respiration. Depressants cause varied amounts of time for the user to feel the effects. A majority of depressants act very quickly; the users begin to feel the effects within seconds. There are depressants that act more slowly, taking up to a half hour for the user to feel the effects. Alcohol is the most familiar and most widely abused depressant. With some exceptions, most depressants affect people in much the same way as alcohol does. Most CNS depressants act on the brain by affecting the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid. Although different classes of CNS depressants work in unique ways, it is through their ability to increase the gamma aminobutyric-acid activity that they produce a drowsy and calming effect that is beneficial to those suffering from anxiety and sleep disorders (What are CNS depressants). Despite their many beneficial effects, barbiturates and benzodiazepines have the potential for abuse. People tend to feel sleepy and uncoordinated when using prescribed CNS depressants. These feelings begin to disappear as the body gets used to the effects of the drug. ...read more.


(Ecstasy Effect on the Brain). The "down" of ecstasy brings on depression and lethargy and can last between three or four days. Structural damage to the brain resulting from chronic alcohol abuse can be observed in different ways. People with a history of chronic alcohol abuse have smaller, less massive brains than non-alcohol drinkers. CT scans show an association between heavy drinking and physical brain damage. Shrinking of the frontal cortex of the brain is excessive and progressive brain shrinkage is associated with common drinkers. There have been theories brought forth about drinking and its association with killing brain cells. The exact reason is still under debate. One theory suggests that alcohol causes the water to be pulled out of cells. Once the cell loses water, the cell membrane structure is lost and without it, membrane functions are affected. Another theory comes from what the cell membrane is composed of. It is composed of lipids. Alcohol may attack the very structure that makes up the cell membrane (Adverse Effects of Alcohol on the Brain). With all the evidence available it is clear that the effects of alcohol and drug abuse are chronic and do affect the brain in numerous amounts of ways; none of which are beneficial. Even with this evidence people still make the decision to consume these horrific substances. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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