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Drugs and the Brain
Describe how drugs affect the brain.
State how drugs can affect a person’s emotions.
Describe how addiction can develop from drug use.
4. Summarize the role of withdrawal in maintaining a
drug addiction.
How Drugs Affect the Brain
Neurons: smallest nerve cell… neurons connect
(synapses)to each other the receive and send
How messages are sent: For the brain to send
message one neuron releases a special chemical
called neurotransmitter at the synapse. This
connects the 2 different neurons so the message
can be received. This is called binding. There are
different types of neurotransmitters including
serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine.
Drugs Can Change how Messages are
Drugs can change the way neurons
communicate with each other. Drugs act as
neurotransmitters, block neurotransmitters, or
change the amount of neurotransmitter in the
synapse. This changes the way we feel and
respond to the world around us.
Messages in the Brain determine Our
The actions of certain neurotransmitters is the
basis for our different moods and emotions.
Serotonin greatly influences our mood,
depressed people may have lower levels of
this neurotransmitter.
Drugs can affect emotions: cocaine, pot, and
nicotine interrupt the balance between many
neurotransmitters needed for normal brain
functioning. Effecting our understanding of
A condition in which a person can no longer
control their drug use.
Behavioral Warning signs of Addiction:
Loss of interest in schoolwork
Dramatic change of appearance
Change of friends
Unexplained mood swings
Absences from school
Dramatic change in eating habits
Behavioral Warning signs of
Excessive secretiveness or lying
Unexplained need for money
Path of Addiction
• Drug Use:Drug use activates the brain reward
• Tolerance: The drug user needs more of the
drug to produce the same effect.
• Dependence: The drug user experiences
uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if he or
she tries to stop using the drug.
• Addiction: The drug user is both physically and
Psychologically dependent on the drug
• Withdrawal: The uncomfortable physical and
psychological symptoms produced when a
physically dependent drug user stops using
• Withdrawal is characterized mostly by
symptoms that are opposite of the drugs
effect. Craving the drug is the brain’s way of
telling the body it needs more of the drug.
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