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How Substance Use Affects The Brain

substance use and your brain

When a substance like heroin, cocaine or alcohol is introduced into the body, the brain releases endorphins, which make you feel good, relieving the feelings of stress and pain and boosting happiness.

Feeling Good Naturally vs Substance Use

This boost of endorphins and boost of happiness is similar to the good feeling you get after exercise, or a great accomplishment. The difference is, substances trigger the brain in the frontal cortex that mimics the feeling of natural endorphins with more dramatic results.

How It Affects The Brain

Over a long period of time, if an individual keeps using a substance, the brain doesn’t keep releasing the endorphins at the same rate.

Think of it like a pinball machine: putting a substance in the body is like the pinball, it goes through the machine causing hits, beeps, lights, and buzzers - that’s the brain reacting. After a while, when there is an addiction, an individual needs to put in more and more of the substance to get the same effect - also known as tolerance.

Increased tolerance can increase the risk of negative side effects. With a heroin addiction, for example, an addicted individual will keep injecting the substance to get more of the good feeling endorphins because they have built up a tolerance over time. But a body’s organs can’t handle as much of the substance as your brain can, and this is what leads to an overdose.

Getting Help For Addiction

If you or somebody in your life seems to have an issue with alcohol or drugs, or is suffering from addiction, professional help may be the best option for recovery.

At Care Addiction Center, we offer treatment plans that address every facet of your addiction, serving individuals in Geneva, Batavia, Sycamore, St. Charles, and Kane County, with online addiction treatment available anywhere in Illinois. 

To get started on the road to recovery, or if you have questions about helping yourself or a loved one, call us today or schedule a confidential assessment online and begin treatment.


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