Addiction changes the brain in several ways. It alters the brain’s reward system, motivation, and decision-making processes. Repeated drug use can lead to changes in the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which produces feelings of pleasure and reinforces behaviors that led to the release of dopamine. Over time, the brain’s reward circuitry becomes more sensitive to drug-related cues and less sensitive to natural rewards such as food, social interaction, and other pleasurable experiences.
Chronic drug use can also lead to changes in other areas of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for decision-making, impulse control, and judgment. Chronic drug use can impair these functions, making it more difficult for individuals to make rational decisions and resist the urge to use drugs.
Additionally, addiction can alter the brain’s stress response system, leading to increased sensitivity to stress and a decreased ability to cope with stressors in a healthy way.
These changes in the brain can make addiction a chronic and relapsing disorder, but with the right treatment and support, it is possible for individuals to recover and manage their addiction. It is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.