• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Brain

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Psychology essays

  1. IA stroop effect

    The experiment will then be concluded. BRIEFING * You are about to participate in a psychology experiment. Your reaction time in reading printed words and then reading the colour of the printed words will be measured. * You have the right to withdraw from this experiment at any stage.

  2. Testing the effect of different types of music on memory.

    Therefore, a table and bar graph is the best method to record the data. In addition, these results were processed through Microsoft Excel 2007 due to its ability to calculate the mean and standard deviation. 2.3.1 TABLE 6: Results Table The table below presents the average and standard deviation of

  1. Clive Wearing and HM - Two Evaluations of Brain Function and memory loss.

    it is hard and time consuming to be able to focus research on a step-by-step experiment as he has already forgotten the first step by the time you move on to the second.

  2. Stroop Effect

    In addition, Participants' name will be anonymous as their confidentiality is important to them in many ways such as they may care what people think about them if other people found out about their scores.

  1. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah--A Psychological Analysis ...

    and the need to feel safe and be a part of something when all else has broken down?I wanted to avenge the deaths of my family?and the only way to do that was to be part of the army?I have been rehabilitated now, so don?t be afraid of me.

  2. Notes on brain scanning - PET and FMRI (Fictional Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

    Scanned while concentrating and also at rest Distracting noises played in order to test concentration -Conclusion: experienced mediations more adept at concentrating than novices, so novices displayed more activity on fMRI from effort

  1. Discuss Environmental and Physiological Effects on Cognition

    the right than the left than in taxi drivers, but the posterior hippocampus was larger in taxi drivers than in controls. Maguire?s experiment establishes a very strong correlation between the use of spatial memory and the hippocampus, as it is the first study that shows brain plasticity in humans.

  2. Cultural Barriers in Multicultural Psychotherapy -A.W.

    Furthermore, culture is reflected in behavioural expressions such as assertive-ness, which is valued to a greater extent in the Caucasian culture than in many non-Caucasian cultures. There are also cultural differences in preferred therapeutic approaches. Traditional psychotherapy theories are generally analytical, linear, and logical, with the primary goal of searching

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work