Guide to Understanding the physical effects of substance abuse
In both the short and long term, there can be serious consequences for those who struggle with substance abuse. The physical effects of drug abuse and addiction are not always the same and might change with the substance, the user, and the circumstances.
Substance abuse and the brain
The “reward” circuit of the limbic system is affected by all drugs, including nicotine, cocaine, marijuana, and others. Mood and instinct are governed by this region of the brain. Drugs that work on this system flood the brain with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a role in regulating emotions and pleasure. An increase in dopamine levels is responsible for the sensation of euphoria. In fact, it’s a major contributor to the onset of drug dependency. While initial drug use is typically a voluntary act, with time the user will inevitably become dependent due to the profound effect that drugs have on brain chemistry. Because of this, a person’s capacity to make decisions may be impaired.