Addiction and the Human Brain Essay

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Addiction Man has battled with addiction to drugs as early as 5000 B.C. when the people of Asia Minor were know to use a “joy plant” derived from the poppy seed (Hansen, Venturelli, & Fleckenstein, 2010). It is estimated that the illicit use of drugs and addictions between “medical, economic, criminal, and social impact” costs Americans nearly half a trillion dollars a year. In addition, 100,000 people lose their lives every year due to the illicit use of drugs (Volkow, 2010). Chronic, relapsing, compulsive, urge, and impulse are just a few of the words used to describe the “brain disease” commonly known as addiction (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2011). Addiction knows no boundaries and affects male and female at every age and …show more content…
The abuse of drugs causes significant or long-term damage to these areas of the brain (Volkow, 2010).
Our brain uses neurons, neurotransmitters, receptors, and transporters to communicate. Electrical impulses called neurons send and receive messages. The electrical impulses are made of chemicals called neurotransmitters to send messages while the receptors are a chemical that receives messages. The neurotransmitter and receptor work together to ensure that a specific message is transmitted accurately. To end the process of communication, neurotransmitters are finally recycled by transporters. The transporter carries the neurotransmitter back to the original cell from which it was released. By doing this, the signal between neurons is eliminated (Volkow, 2010). The use and abuse of drugs seriously affects this network of communication in our brain.
What do Drugs do to the Brain?
Brain function is based on chemical interactions. The introduction of drugs – whether illicit or licit – changes the brains chemicals and therefore changes the behavior of how natural brain chemicals interact with each other. For example, marijuana and heroin are similar enough in chemical composition that they can actually trick the brain into behaving like a neurotransmitter, which leads to abnormal messages being transmitted (Volkow, 2010). Excessive amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine are triggered by the

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