Oftentimes, whenever we consider the side effects of drug abuse and addiction, we think about “highs,” experiences when a user feels a euphoric rush and an overbearing feeling of happiness (followed immediately by a crash). However, while these changes are short-term (lasting for a few seconds or a few hours, at most), research confirms that long-term drug use can lead to permanent changes that can last anywhere from several years to an entire lifetime. In fact, some substances not only alter brain chemistry but can also damage structural portions of the brain itself. In fact, these changes can lead to further comorbid, chronic mental health problems even worse than addiction. Let’s take a closer look and see how long-term drug abuse and addiction can ruin the brain.
Nervous System Depressants
Long-term use of nervous system depressants (specifically opioids and benzodiazepines) can result in a boost in dopamine receptors, which (as a result) can completely dampen feelings of pleasure and joy. As a result of this tolerance, people will start to take more and more of these drugs in an attempt to achieve the same euphoric sensation as before. Ultimately, opioid overdoses can permanently damage the brain (due to blood vessel restriction, which cuts off the oxygen supply).
Alcohol and the Brain
Another nervous system depressant, alcohol is a tremendous threat to the brain, in contrast to other types of drugs. Ultimately, long-term alcoholism and abuse can trigger a thiamine (vitamin B12) deficiency, which wreaks havoc on the brain. As a result, the vitamin deficiency subsequently triggers Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (a hybrid of Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis), which can produce the following symptoms:
- Disorientation and confusion
- Poor eye and muscle coordination
- Problems with memory
- Issues with learning
Ultimately, drugs like stimulants (including amphetamines, methamphetamines, and ADHD drugs) affect the brain in the same manner as nervous system depressants. As a result of long-term use, these drugs will inhibit dopamine receptors, forcing a person to consume more of the drug to feel good. Likewise, stimulants impeded normal functions of the serotonin system and can induce anhedonia, the inability to feel any kind of pleasure.
Seeking Treatment for Drug Addiction or Alcoholism
Always remember that alcohol and drugs do not have control over your life. You do. Are you suffering from a substance use disorder or a severe form of addiction? Do you have a friend or family member suffering from one or more of these debilitating illnesses? If you do, get in touch with Asana Recovery today. Our counselors and healthcare experts are ready to walk you through every step of the detox and withdrawal process and rehabilitation and guide you towards living a happier, healthier, and freer lifestyle. While the road to recovery might not be an easy road to travel, we promise to help you every step of the way. Take the first step to stay fit, healthy, and safe.
The time for you to take back control of your life is now. If you are interested in one of our residential treatment or supervised detoxification/withdrawal programs, we are ready and waiting to speak with you at your disclosure. Call Asana now at (949) 438-4504 to learn how to overcome your alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or addiction troubles today.