Addiction Essay Research Paper In order to

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Addiction Essay, Research Paper In order to fully understand this question it is important to define exactly what is meant by the key terms used; the Oxford English Popular English Dictionary (Parragon, Oxford 1995) defines ‘abuse´ as; ‘To make bad or wrong use of; to maltreat´, and it defines ‘addiction´ as the condition of doing or using something as a habit or compulsively (esp. of drug taking, with adverse effects on ceasing) devotion to an interest. During this essay I hope to show how drugs alter the way the brain works, and the way it perceives situation. I hope to show the consequences of drug use and abuse and also to show what research is being undertaken in an attempt to alleviate these problems. Recently we have seen a huge increase in the use of legal

and illegal drugs in our society as some have been used for legitimate purposes, others have also been seriously misused- this misuse can be defined as drug abuse and addiction this addiction encores both psychological and physiological addition, and drug abuse often leads to this addiction. As an example of a drug which can be abused I shall look at Cocaine. Cocaine is a white powder refined from the coca plant, which grows in South America, it is a short acting stimulant which quickly reaches the brain and it produces effects such as talkativeness, excess confidence increased appetite and euphoria. As these effects only last around thirty minutes the user feels they need more in order to overcome the effects received on a ‘come down´. These include paranoia and irritability.

Regular users suffer poor sleeping patterns the feeling of not being able to cope without the drug. So how are these effects caused? Alcohol, cocaine, nicotine even caffeine are just some of the drugs which can lead to addition and abuse. All of these cause their effects through the brain, mostly it is the brain´s ‘reward system´ where the effects begin. The network of neurons is activated when we perform the daily activities which help to keep us alive – such as eating, the brain provides a ‘reward´ associated with pleasurable feelings so encouraging us to repeat these actions. Drugs also stimulate this system but often produce effects far in excess of these received from natural daily functions, so the influence of these drugs on the brain encourages the user to repeat

drug use. Findings indicate that there are two or more receptor sites which meditate the effects of the drugs, one site meditates the euphoria, while the other mediates pain killing. Different drugs mimic the effects of brain neurotransmitters at synaptic receptors. Opiates such as heroine or morphine mimic the opioids such as endorphins or enkephalins, nicotine mimics acetylcholine, cannabis mimics endocannabinoids and amphetamine/cocaine mimics dopamine/norepinephrine. In the 1950s researchers Olds and Milner (1954) produced experiments on intracranial self stimulation (ICSS) here they discovered that under certain circumstances rats would dismiss the pleasure of water, food or sexual partners in order to keep an area of the brain over stimulated by an electrode, this is how

the reward centre got its name. This ‘centre´ got the name ‘circuit´ when researchers found that linked brain locations are involved in pleasure. The circuit includes a set of neurons found in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) which connect to the nucleus accumbens and to other areas such as the prefrontal cortex. Some neuroscientists now are studying the molecular mechanisms that drugs alter within the circuit, they study the way that dopamine is produced and how its messages are received (Dopamine is a chemical messenger), they believe that drug´s influence on these mechanisms eventually change the way neurons within the system act. Simply put drugs and ICCS block the biological reward pathways, drugs provide a rapid intense reward not found within day to day realms,