How Do Drugs Affect The Brain?

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When it comes to drug use, your brain seems to be the one to take the greatest hit. Different drugs affect the brain differently, so there’s no way to predict how they are going to affect you. But one thing is for sure – some changes are going to occur. At Bright Futures Treatment Center, we believe that it’s never too late to reverse the damaging effects of drugs on the brain. Thus, we have composed an overview of the brain changes you can expect to see after drug use and some of the things you can do to impact them.

How do drugs affect the brain immediately?

You have probably already heard of the intense high that drug users feel after taking a drug. And this high kicks in mere minutes after taking your drug of choice. This is because all addictive drugs affect brain pathways involving reward. They trigger the dopamine system in the reward pathway, helping the person taking the drug to feel ecstatic and relaxed. And it’s usually because of this feeling that people take the drug time and time again, ultimately finding themselves in our cocaine or heroin rehab center in Boynton Beach.

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Our brains are important for every decision in life that we make. That’s why you want to keep it functional.

Both heroin and prescription opioids and cocaine and meth affect dopamine production. Heroin and prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, bind to opioid receptors in the brain, triggering dopamine production. They release a surge of dopamine, hijacking the limbic system in the brain. The high that a person experiences after taking this class of drugs will be intense. It’s due to this reason that heroin and opioid drugs are considered to be highly addictive.

Cocaine and meth, on the other hand, belong to a class of drugs known as stimulants. They have one thing in common with the previous group of drugs – they also create an intense high as they flood the brain with dopamine. However, they also speed up the central nervous system while having other effects on the body, like suppressing appetite, increasing energy levels, focus, alertness, and wakefulness. That’s why they are commonly used by college students when preparing for finals. However, because of their addictive potential, people oftentimes end up in a meth or cocaine rehab center in Florida.

Additional changes you can expect

Since they cause a person to experience an intense high which is very addictive, these drugs are rarely ever taken only once. If you were to ask anyone who is currently in our drug treatment Florida center, they would tell you that they have begun with experimentation on the mind. They had the idea of taking that drug only once, but they couldn’t stop themselves after that first high. As you begin to take more and more of the drug in question, your brain also becomes less responsive to that same quantity of drugs. In other words, it develops a tolerance for the substance of choice, and you need more drugs to experience the same effects you did initially.

An unhappy woman, thinking about how drugs affect the brain.
An addicted person will be unhappy after going a day without alcohol, drugs, or prescription drugs.

This way, you become addicted to a drug in such a way that you can’t imagine going a day without it. And apart from the effects that this has on the brain, people also experience a plethora of different problems that are of physical nature. Keep in mind that this applies to alcohol addiction in Florida as well, as alcohol is definitely not a substance without an impact.

Rewired brain connections

At first, it’s only the regions inside the reward pathway that are impacted by drug use. At this point, a person can stop drug use in a relatively simple way. However, as you continue to take the drug in question, the other areas of the brain get impacted. And this is when drug effects on the brain become more dangerous and permanent. With time, the regions of the brain that are responsible for judgment, learning, decision-making, and memory are going to be impacted. This will cause you to act out of character and make poor decisions. Some behaviors will become hard-wired, and it’s going to be almost impossible for you to change them. Likewise, in some regions, the brain connections are going to be increased, while they will be decreased in others.

Whether you like it or not, this is when taking a drug will become a reflex. A person is going to become an addict, and they will need to look into heroin, cocaine, or meth rehab in Boynton Beach. This also goes for prescription drugs, as the changes that they make on the brain also require treatment.

The loss of white matter

The white matter of the brain has many functions. It protects the brain from injury, coordinates communication between different regions of the brain, and affects learning and decision-making. Chronic use of heroin, in particular, is responsible for the significant loss of brain matter. Once it’s gone, the loss can be permanent. However, there are also many ways to treat the symptoms, and there exists a chance for the white matter to be regenerated. And while this remains an unknown, there’s one thing you can count on – the fact that regular heroin use WILL have an effect. Drugs affect the brain regardless of who you are, as addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate.

A close-up of a CT scan.
Most brain changes are undesirable, so you want to avoid them.

Long-lasting changes in the brain after drug use

Let’s start with a piece of positive news first – drug use and some of its effects on the brain can be reversed. Some of the neurons that might have been killed by a drug’s toxic effects can be replaced, while others can’t. There’s no way to know for sure until you actually start treatment. But there is one thing we can tell you with certainty – it’s going to take time for things to go back to what they once were. And it might take a lot of it.

Restructuring the brain after drug use will take months, with some research showing that it might actually take years for this to happen. One of the worst mistakes you can make going into Oxycodone rehab in Florida is thinking that finishing the process of withdrawal will mark the end of your journey. It will definitely mark the completion of the most challenging part, but your brain won’t go back to normal long after finishing treatment. Another thing you should keep in mind is that this isn’t a reason for you not to go into treatment. The more time passes, the harder it will be for you to overcome drug addiction. And the bigger the effects this will have on your brain and its structure.

Keep in mind that these long-lasting changes will also make your recovery difficult. Staying away from a relapse will be a challenge, as you will still crave the drug almost every day. That’s why it’s important to work on maintaining your sobriety and surrounding yourself with people who care. Likewise, continuing to go to therapy should be your priority in the days to come. Working with a professional will be imperative for being able to say no to drugs.

 How to address these changes?

The first way to overcome all of these negative changes is to admit that you need help. Hopefully, knowing that drugs affect the brain in a very detrimental way is enough for you to decide to go out of your comfort zone and get help. The first step is always the most difficult one, as it involves reaching out to a professional for help. You might have to spend some time searching for the best treatment center for your needs. Some centers specialize in one type of addiction, so it’s essential to get suitable help for your specific situation.

A woman researching how drugs affect the brain on a laptop.
You can use your laptop to search for the most suitable treatment facility for your needs.

Once you find a treatment center that can cater to your addiction, you have another thing to check. Namely, there are different types of programs available. Inpatient and Outpatient care are the two main ones. Some facilities will offer one over the other, or they will offer one for a specific group of people only. At Bright Futures Treatment Center, you can successfully get access to both of these types of treatment.

Inpatient care

Inpatient Programs in Florida entail partial or complete hospitalization of individuals. In most situations, you will spend 30, 60, or 90 days living in a rehab center. While there, you will get 24/7 support and reassurance from professional counselors and therapists, as well as access to medications. Medically-Assisted Treatment in a big part of this program, as these drugs help you go through recovery and rehab much more smoothly. But because of the nature of the situation, it’s important to have a team of professionals who will monitor your dosage and reaction to these drugs.

Because of the level of monitoring and care that you will receive, this program is best suited for people with severe addiction. Thus, if you have been misusing heroin or cocaine for quite some time, chances are that you will do your best after committing yourself to this program. Depending on the situation, you can either go back to your normal life after treatment, or you can transfer to an Outpatient program.

Outpatient care

Outpatient Programs in Florida are perfect for those who have a mild to moderate addiction to drugs. When opting for this program, you will get to stay in the comfort of your own home while getting treated for your drug or alcohol dependence. How often you will have to go into treatment depends on your individual situation. Some people will have to attend therapy five to seven days a week for five to eight hours per day. Others will be able to go into treatment once or twice a week for a few hours per day. It’s best to let a professional tell you what you can benefit from the most.

Bedroom furniture.
Some people can’t imagine leaving the comfort of their own homes, so Outpatient care is the perfect form of treatment for them.

How to choose the right one?

It’s simple – all you have to do is let our professionals assess your condition. Every person’s addiction and the journey to addiction will be different. There are different parameters that decide which program is the suitable one for you. The length of your addiction, its intensity, and the drug of choice all play a role in the decision-making process. While it might be difficult for you to be impartial, that’s exactly what professionals are here for. They will assess your situation and needs, after which they will recommend a treatment program for you. You are free to make the final call and decide whether you want to accept their recommendation. Usually, that’s the safest way to choose the right program for yourself.

To sum up

There are many different ways in which drugs affect the brain, and you can rest assured that none of the changes will be positive. From affecting the way you make decisions to flooding your brain with dopamine, drugs have the power to turn you into a completely different person. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as some of these changes can be reversed. But you should know that it can take months or even years to return to your former self. If you are looking for the quickest way to regain your old attitude and way of thinking, feel free to contact us. Our professionals will recommend the best treatment plan for you, getting you on your way to recovery. With professionals by your side leading the way, even the uncomfortable process of withdrawal will be less scary and more manageable.


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