Substance abuse leads to detrimental effects on brain

Published on Oct 28, 2021 06:16 PM IST
However, all is not lost! Biofeedback therapy is a standard treatment for stabilising and calming the brain after addiction while being monitored by an expert. Constant efforts go into improving brain activity, thereby reducing the effects of addiction and unhealthful impulses.
Illicit drug use causes one out of every four deaths, affecting more than 7 million people. Drug use is responsible for more deaths, illnesses, and impairments than any other preventable health issue.(Representational image)
Illicit drug use causes one out of every four deaths, affecting more than 7 million people. Drug use is responsible for more deaths, illnesses, and impairments than any other preventable health issue.(Representational image)
ByNithin Kumar N, Bengaluru

The brain is the most delicate organ in the human body and the center of all human activity. It is well-known that substance abuse is attributed to both short and long-term detrimental effects on the human brain, leading to the destruction of brain cells and an influenced mind and body upon the drug's interaction with the brain's limbic system altering its chemistry. Intoxication causes the brain and bloodstream to be flooded with stimulant chemicals such as nicotine, opiates, alcohol, sedatives, and ethanol, resulting in uncontrolled impulses and the inability to make decisions. The brain's over-stimulated reward system targets drugs that may be addictive, prompting it to reduce its production of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers).

Drugs can be consumed in a variety of ways, including through injection, inhalation, and ingestion. Marijuana and heroin, for example, have a chemical composition that is like a neurotransmitter found naturally in our bodies, fooling our receptors into latching on to them and stimulating nerve cells. Cocaine and methamphetamine, on the other hand, induce nerve cells to release an excessive quantity of dopamine, prompting neurons to send aberrant impulses through the brain, creating both mental and physical issues. Benzodiazepines or heroin, for example, are potent but deadly chemicals that can disrupt brain function.

Today, illicit drug use causes one out of every four deaths, affecting more than 7 million people. Drug use is responsible for more deaths, illnesses, and impairments than any other preventable health issue.

Side effects:

- Weakened immune system and reduced resistance to infections.

- Injected drugs lead to heart conditions like abnormal heart rates, heart attacks, collapsed veins, and blood vessels.

- Nephrotic syndrome is characterized by nausea and abdominal pain, leading to reduced appetite and weight loss.

- Increased risk of liver damage or failure due to Hepatocellular stress.

- Brain damage, seizure disorders, and strokes

- Inflammatory bronchitis

- Poor memory, attention, and decision-making issues.

- Breast development and rise in body temperature in men.

Addiction brain therapies:

Abstaining from substance use can improve or reverse many brain changes and neurological complications. Risks of relapse and heart attack can be significantly reduced by receiving professional treatment for withdrawal symptoms. Rehab helps provide medication and access to innovative therapies.

Biofeedback therapy is a standard treatment for stabilising and calming the brain after addiction while being monitored by an expert. Constant efforts go into improving brain activity, thereby reducing the effects of addiction and unhealthful impulses. Bio and neurofeedbacks are the most common types.

In biofeedback, electroencephalograms (EEGs) are used. Professionally monitoring the brain, electric sensors on the skin reduce stress and involuntary functions. Meditation, guided imagery, and muscle relaxation are all included in this therapy. People with traumatic brain injuries and obsessive-compulsive disorders, and OCPD often benefit from EEGs.

Neurofeedback or EEQ therapy helps improve brain performance with a brain training treatment. Together with cognitive or dialectical behavioral therapy, biofeedback improves individuals' involuntary functions like heartbeat, blood pressure, and muscle contractions. It monitors the brain's activity in the case of addiction, reduces stress and anxiety in patients, and can be used to treat compulsive behaviors. In both cases, the brain is rewarded for regaining its normal function.

Long-term addiction can be terrible and difficult to overcome. Seek expert help to recover from a Substance Use Disorder. You'll get tailored treatment, physical and psychological support, and a better understanding of the addiction.

(Dr. Nithin Kumar N is a consultant at the neurology department of Fortis Hospitals in Bengaluru's Cunningham Road. Views expressed are personal.)

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