How Does Addiction Affect The Brain

From altering our perception to changing how we behave, addiction, be it to drugs or alcohol, has undeniable effects on the brain.

If you hope to understand addiction and how it affects the brain, you have come to the right place.

At Step One Recovery, we answer the question “how does addiction affect the brain?” here


What Does An Addiction Do To The Brain?

When drugs or alcohol are consumed, the brain releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. These particular neurotransmitters are associated with pleasure, happiness and other feel-good emotions.

Consuming large quantities of drugs or alcohol increases serotonin and dopamine levels within the brain, leaving many feeling extremely happy in the hours following consumption.

However, as the effects of drugs and alcohol wear off, anxiety and paranoia are often experienced as the brain adjusts to a change in serotonin and dopamine levels. This fluctuation often initiates the addiction cycle, as many are left unable to cope with the side effects that arise when dopamine and serotonin levels decrease.

In addition, research highlights that addiction gradually disrupts and reduces serotonin and dopamine. Regrettably, studies determine that when serotonin and dopamine levels reduce, mental health disorders, including depression, are likely to arise.

Addictions are also known to impair cognitive function, decrease brain activity, and cause the size of the brain to increase and decrease. Combined, these changes leave many struggling with addiction to experience short and long term side effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain.


The Short Term Effects Of Alcohol and Drugs On The Brain

The short term effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain see sensations such as euphoria experience. As examined by The American Society for Clinical Investigation, euphoria is perceived as a reward within the brain. It often contributes to the likelihood that an individual will continue to consume drugs or alcohol.

Although addicts often overlook the short term effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain, memory loss, an inability to concentrate and trouble retaining information all arise when alcohol and drugs are consumed. The short term effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain also include slurred speech, changes in behaviour, mood swings and mobility problems.


The Long Term Effects Of Alcohol and Drugs On The Brain

Although the short term effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain wear off within hours of consumption, some of the effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain are long-lasting.

For example, the long term effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain include insomnia and severe memory problems.

Unfortunately, the long term effects of alcohol and drugs on the brain also see many struggling with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations.


Psychological Signs That Someone Is Suffering With An Addiction

If you are suffering with an addiction, you will experience many psychological signs that will signal that addiction is having a profound effect on the brain.

The psychological signs experienced include mood swings, irritability, trouble concentrating, trouble remembering, fatigue, insomnia and pessimistic thoughts. You will experience substantial highs and lows, and you may come to encounter suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Should you find yourself worried that a loved one or friend is suffering with an addiction, psychological signs such as those noted above will arise. In some instances, these signs will alter an individual’s behaviour and will see them become somewhat agitated.


Addiction Treatment Can Help Minimise The Effects Addiction Has On The Brain

As you uncover the answers to the question “how does addiction affect the brain?” you may wonder whether the impact addiction has on the brain can be alleviated. Although, in some instances, it is not always possible to entirely alleviate how addiction affects the brain, treatment can help minimise the effects addiction has.

For example, completing a drug detox or alcohol detox will remove harmful toxins that are administered throughout the course of an addiction from the brain. This essentially enables the brain to recover from the repercussions substances have. Gradually, the effects wear off, and many find that they are once again able to function.

Additionally, drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatments, such as therapy, can reduce the psychological effects that addiction has on the brain. By supporting you in reflecting on your addiction, therapy and rehabilitation will provide you with the ability to overcome the psychological ramifications, control and effect that addiction has on the brain.


Contact Us Today For Addiction Treatment

Although we hope that the information shared above will help you answer “how does addiction affect the brain?”, if you have any questions surrounding addiction, addiction treatment, or rehab, please contact us today.

Upon contacting us, we can help you ascertain whether you require addiction treatment, inform you of our referral services and help you secure a place at our residential rehab for treatment.