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The Effects Of Cocaine On The Human Brain

The human brain weighs approximately three pounds and influences everything a person does. You may not realize it, but your brain is not the same today as it was yesterday or last month. The brain is a continuously changing collection of cells. When you learn something new or have a new experience, new synapses form. Some synapses get stronger, or some synapses may even disappear. Your brain even enables you to feel pleasure. Whenever you do something that you enjoy, such as eating your favorite snack, drinking a cold drink on a hot summer day, or laughing with your friends, the reward pathway in your brain is activated. It is that stimulation of the neurons in the reward pathway that makes you feel good.

Cocaine acts on the neurons in the reward pathway. Cocaine increases the release of dopamine. The increased dopamine Definition of the word dopamine levels give drug abusers the rush or a high that they enjoy for a short time. The feelings of pleasure the drugs create only last a short time, but drugs can cause changes within the brain that last a very long time. Some of the changes may even be permanent.

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One of the changes that occur when a person takes cocaine is the development of cravings. If a person takes Cocaine and then stops taking it, he or she will crave the drug. In other words, the individual will have a strong desire to take more of the drug. Cocaine exerts such a strong effect that even the mention of it may stimulate cravings in Cocaine addicts. Figuring out why addicts are so prone to relapse is a major area of research. One culprit is the phenomenon of craving or the powerful "hunger" for drugs that can linger months or years after an addict quits using. Scientists have discovered evidence that this craving may be partly a physiological phenomenon, related to the long-term changes in brain function that addiction causes. Now accustomed to functioning in the presence of drugs, the addicted brain, in essence, becomes unable to function normally in their absence.

As you have learned in previous, on a short-term basis, Cocaine alters the release of dopamine. But what happens when a person takes cocaine over a long period of time? Does the body respond to it in the same way it did when the person tried the drugs for the first time? Often, the individual doesn't get as intense of a response after taking it repeatedly. This is called "tolerance." The brain has adapted to having a certain amount of the drug present and doesn't respond the same way it did initially. The body may become more efficient at metabolizing or breaking down the drug. This reduces the number of drugs in the bloodstream. Alternatively, the cells throughout the body and the brain can become more resistant to the effect of the drug by causing changes in the activity of the receptors. Tolerance explains why drug abusers and addicts take increasingly higher doses of drugs over time.


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Marcel Gemme

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Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people.

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