What Happens to the Brain During Drug and Alcohol Addiction

What Happens to the Brain During Drug and Alcohol Addiction

By Jennifer McDougall

When you use drugs and alcohol, they enter your brain and change how it works. This can make you feel good, but eventually, it can lead to addiction. The chemicals in our brains play an essential role in regulating mood, emotions, cognition, and behavior—and they are also why drugs and alcohol are so addictive. Understanding how drug use affects the brain can help you understand why getting sober takes time and is so difficult for some people who want to stop using substances.

Drugs and alcohol alter the chemicals in our brains.

Drugs and alcohol affect the brain in different ways, but they all change the chemistry of our bodies. At a cellular level, drugs and alcohol can increase the chemicals that make us feel good (such as dopamine) or decrease the ones that make us feel bad (such as serotonin). Low levels of seotonin are related to symptoms of depression. Drugs and alcohol can also affect our neurotransmitters—the chemicals that send messages from one cell to another.

The effects of drug use on your mood and behavior vary depending on which substance you take, how much you take, how long you have been using it, and whether other substances are involved. But no matter what substance is being used or how often it’s being taken, there will always be some effect on those who regularly consume them.

The brain naturally craves control, predictability, and orderliness.

The human brain is a complex chemical machine. When working correctly, it’s designed to respond to the world around us with a sense of control and predictability. This can be seen in our relationship to pleasure; once the brain has experienced a pleasurable sensation its reward system triggers dopamine release into the body. This natural chemical substance triggers feelings like happiness and satisfaction — but if it happens too often or intensely, people become dependent on substances to help them feel that pleasure.

The brain’s reward system is focused on the natural chemical dopamine.

It’s essential to understand the brain’s reward system. It is a bundle of neurons that make up the pleasure center in your brain and motivates you to do things that are good for you but not always so fun (like being disciplined in your workout and eating regiment).

The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a crucial role in this process by telling your brain that your actions are essential and must be repeated.

Pleasure triggers the release of dopamine into the body.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released in response to pleasurable things, but it can also be removed when taking drugs. Dopamine is part of the brain’s reward system, which motivates you to take action and do things that increase your chances of survival.

Drugs like cocaine and amphetamines work by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain’s reward system. This causes intense feelings of pleasure but can cause long-term changes in this system, making it more difficult for people who abuse these substances to experience any joy without using drugs again.

Many people have trouble with this neurological response and become dependent on substances.

Addiction is not a disease. It is a complex condition that involves many factors, including biology, behavior, and environment. While some people may be more genetically vulnerable to addiction than others, even those without any family history of substance abuse can become addicted if they use drugs or alcohol heavily enough. Addiction is progressive and often occurs without proper treatment; however, with appropriate therapy and support from loved ones, it can be treated effectively with long-lasting results.

Addiction leads to changes in thinking patterns and behavior.

Addiction changes the way you think. Addiction changes the way you act. Addiction changes the way you feel. Addiction changes how you see yourself and how others perceive you—and that’s just for starters! As a result of these changes in thinking patterns and behavior, people addicted to drugs and alcohol often develop an altered sense of reality when it comes to drugs or alcohol—it becomes necessary for them to keep using these substances to maintain this new reality.

Drug use affects your brain’s chemistry.

Drug use affects your brain’s chemistry. When you take drugs or alcohol, your brain chemistry changes and the chemical composition of the body and brain can be altered by long-term drug use. This happens because these substances change how dopamine, a neurotransmitter found in many parts of the brain, works. Dopamine is involved with feelings of pleasure and reward; it makes us feel good when we eat something delicious, get a promotion, or win a competition. Drugs like cocaine and meth create an imbalance of dopamine levels in the brain by flooding it with large amounts of this neurotransmitter all at once; this causes adverse effects on cognitive abilities like memory and learning.


The bottom line is that addiction affects the brain and your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It’s not just a matter of willpower or choice but rather a disease of the brain. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to relapse forever—you can take steps toward recovery. Call Passages today at (888) 397-0112 if you or a loved one is ready to get help for drug or alcohol addiction.

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