Brain on Drugs

It doesn’t just help you think. It helps you smell, hear, feel, move, breathe, write, see, solve problems, remember things and make decisions. It’s a finely tuned machine. It works faster than the fastest computer in the world.

Curious How Your Brain Works?


What Do Drugs Do?

Drugs work like this. They imitate the brain’s natural chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, which send, receive and process information. But drugs don’t work the same way as natural neurotransmitters, so abnormal messages end up being sent throughout the brain, causing lots of problems. Drugs also overstimulate, or rev up a part of our brain called the nucleus accumbens, which is a group of nerve cells underneath our cerebral cortex. When we’re happy, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is released in this part of the brain. Scientists call the nucleus accumbens the brain’s “pleasure center.”

What’s Addiction?

When someone’s addicted to drugs, they depend on them to function. They’re the most important thing in their life, over friends, family, school or sports. Drugs changed their brain. They’ll often take drugs even if they don’t want to anymore. How does this happen? It starts because drugs send too much dopamine to our brain’s “pleasure center.” Our brain is overwhelmed. It needs a break, so it starts making less dopamine of its own. When a person doesn’t make enough dopamine, they feel sad. So, they take more drugs, trying to feel better. But that only makes the problem worse.


Marijuana affects a person’s judgment and can impair driving ability. Regular users might see their grades start to slip in school or become addicted.


Alcohol can damage or even kill neurons and alter brain development. Someone who’s had too much alcohol has problems making safe decisions. These are the parts of the brain impacted when someone drinks:
control impulsive behavior
stores memory
controls movement, balance and complex motor functions
controls judgment, behavior, and emotion
controls sleeping and waking
controls heartbeats, breathing and other functions


Nicotine is one of more than 4,000 chemicals found in the smoke from tobacco products. Cigarette smoking accounts for about 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S.When you smoke, nicotine enters the blood stream and reaches the brain within ten to twenty seconds. It’s a hard addiction to beat because it changes your brain.


Brain Lobes & Functions

A lot of your body parts come in pairs, like your lungs, your eyes and your arms. Your cerebrum also comes in two parts called cerebral hemispheres. Each hemisphere is divided into four parts called lobes. Check out the different names for your four lobes and what each one helps you do.


What’s A Stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood your body carries to your brain gets blocked. Your brain can’t get the oxygen it needs and brain cells die. If a grown up is having a stroke, they might seem confused or have a hard time walking or talking. You can help. Call 911 and get help right away.


How Drugs Hurt Your Brain

Drugs are chemicals. They get in the way of how a healthy brain works. They also cause dramatic, and often permanent, changes in your brain. It’s worse for teenagers because the teenage brain is still developing. The human brain isn’t fully developed until around age 25. Until then, important changes are still taking place.

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