• Question: what makes drugs so addictive to the brain?

    Asked by amhr2005 to Marianne, Deepak on 19 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 19 Jun 2019:


      Some drugs are very addictive because they activate the reward centre of the brain, causing a release of dopamine, which makes us feel good. Drugs can cause an excessive release of dopamine which makes people who take drugs feel really good, rather than just regular levels of good. Research suggests that regular use of drugs can cause our brains to change from liking something to wanting it. This means that the individual will actively seek out the substance, rather than just know they like it. For example I know that I like sweets, but I’m not constantly seeking out sweets. Eventually over time the brain stops responding so strongly to the drug, so to get the same effect the individual will have to take more of it to chase that original high feeling. This can be very dangerous and lead to overdosing. The brain can also eventually associate other things with being high apart from just taking the drug. Someone might see a needle and crave drugs, because they have learnt to associate needles with the high as well. These associations can be dangerous for people trying to quit taking a drug. This is how people get addicted to drugs.

      I got a lot of information from this article here, it was an interesting read if you’d like to learn about it in more detail. 🙂

      https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/how-addiction-hijacks-the-brain

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