Drugs and the Brain 1. 2. 3. 4. 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 messages. 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 Sent 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 Moods 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 reality. Addiction 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 Addiction Excessive secretiveness or lying Unexplained need for money Path of Addiction • Drug Use:Drug use activates the brain reward system. • 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 drugs. • 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.