Drug Addiction and the Effects on the Brain


This paper aims at showing the various effects of drug addiction on the human’s brain whereby, it will use Marijuana, Alcohol and Ecstasy drugs addiction, as the case examples. First, it will introduce the term drug addiction, and then it will go ahead to show the various effects on the brains when a person get used to the above drugs. Marijuana, Ecstasy and alcohol affect both the physical body as well as the mind of the person addicted to them, but this paper will focus on the psychological effects only.

Drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder refers to the dependence on either illegal or legal drugs for personal pleasure or medicinal purposes (Volkow, et al. 2017). At this point, it is important to note that some substances such as alcohol are considered as a drug, but it is a legal substance in most countries (Volkow et al. 2015). Also, it is crucial to note that some drugs are used for medicinal purposes in various countries. For example, marijuana has been recently legalised in some states (Victoria State) in Australia for use in treating epilepsy disease in children but with a recommendation from a licensed doctor (Satel et al. 2014).

Drug Addiction and the Effects on the Brains

Alcohol, Ecstasy and marijuana addictions cause a range of effects on the brains, and they include the following:

Drug addictions and memory loss: marijuana and alcohol affect the parts of the brains which are responsible for memory issues. These substances affect the three types of memory namely; sensory, short term and long term memories (Saah, 2005). Hippocampus is a section within the side of the brains and which is part of the systems which are responsible for controlling the memory of a person, their sense of smell and emotions. This part of the brains plays a vital role in spatial and memory awareness hence the reasons why they are impaired when a person is involved with alcohol and marijuana. The compounds present in the two drugs especially with marijuana will affect these functions to the point that coordination and balance are lost (Robins et al. 2016). Also, continued use of the two drugs will make it difficult for a person to recall events that took place before. Some people will even forget the days of the week or even the dates. Some addicts are reported to forget where they left something, especially with phones or keys. The reactions of the addicts will slow down, and they will find themselves taking longer time than usual to act or think about something (P.Z et al. 2016).

Drug addictions and learning: people who are addicted to drugs such as Marijuana, Alcohol or even Ecstasy will find it that their cognitive abilities will be less effective than when it is normal. These people’s abilities to capture new information, multitask, retain information and focusing is impaired. At this point, their abilities at their workplace, school life will be affected negatively hence result in a reduced performance (Longo et al. 2016). Addicts of these drugs especially marijuana and alcohol will lose the ability to concentrate on their various works hence they will make more errors and experience difficulties when they want to remember some things (Kim et al. 2014). Mostly, these drugs affect the short term memory which is tasked with recalling and storing specific information which is required so as to complete a certain task. People who are addicted to these drugs will find it harder to remember some information, or it can even take longer time than usual to remember that specific issue. At this point, it is even much tougher to capture and retain new information and to stay focused while switching from one activity to the other. THC’s compounds which are present in marijuana will attach themselves to the nerve cells hence affecting their roles (Herman et al. 2015).

Drug addictions and social behaviour: addiction on these drugs can cause some effects on the social skills and behaviour. Addiction causes the psychological inability to function well in the daily activities. Addicts may find it that they experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop taking these drugs so they will continue to use them so as to retain control and they will get addicted more and more. People who are addicted may change from a sociable, upbeat and outgoing person to someone who prefers his/her company, withdrawn and quiet person (Heim, 2014). Also, they may prefer to remain indoors the whole day to continue abusing those drugs. This way, they will become less active into the community issues. Also, these people will lack the motivation and energy hence they became less focused and committed thus they will make more and more errors. Due to these psychological effects, addicts involved in machinery operations are more likely to cause an accident (Heim, 2014).

Drug addictions and Hallucinations: drug addictions such as alcohol and marijuana addictions may result to hallucinations which refer to a condition of altered reality in which a person will experience distorted sound, colour and time. A person experiencing hallucinations will tend to perceive colours, textures and sounds as much sharper, exaggerated or even clearly defined. With time, they perceive it as having stopped all together, or it slowed down. Most addicts will hear or see certain things which are not presently there (Gilpin, 2014). Addicts who have used large amounts of these drugs such as marijuana will experience an unpleasant and different forms of hallucinations hence some of them might even see ghosts and may scream at night whereby they will claim that someone or an animal attacked them. Some of these addicts may become panicky or anxious, and other times they will report or say that they will die (Gilpin, 2014).

Drug addictions and insomnia: insomnia refers to the inability to sleep, and it is caused by many factors and among them is drug addiction from substances such as marijuana and alcohol. Most addicts will say that they cannot get sleep at night if they have not taken a certain drug (Fox et al. 2013). For example, alcoholics may not get sleep at night if they are not under the influence of alcohol, so most of them fear to go to bed when they are not drunk. Other drugs such as nicotine and cocaine also cause cases of insomnia especially when a person is used to taking them. It is commonly present during the first days when a person is experiencing withdrawal. If using cocaine and marijuana or even alcohol makes a person to feel sleepy then they will lose sleep when they don’t use it (Fox et al. 2017).

Drug addictions and anxiety: Addiction to drugs such as marijuana can result in a range of effects such as increased laughter, elation, altered perceptions and talkativeness. On the same note, it can cause other effects such as paranoia, agitation and anxiety (Filbey et al. 2014).  Anxiety is a state where a person is under extreme fear of a certain perceived threat. Drug addictions such as marijuana, alcohol and others such as nicotine are some of the factors that may result in this psychological problem known as anxiety. New addicts to marijuana may start to experience anxiety while those addicts who consume a large dose of that drug may also experience the state of anxiety (Filbey et al. 2014). Drug addicts who suffer from anxiety have reported feeling like they are going to die or getting mad. This can occur if they are experiencing headaches or chest tightness as a result of tension caused by the state of anxiety. A common psychological effect linked to anxiety is that feeling of being out of control (Saah, 2005).

Drug addictions and depression: depression is a form of illness which makes a person lose interest in the things that happens around them. Addiction to drugs such as alcohol and marijuana is closely linked to a person’s depression although there are other factors to be considered (Le Merrer et al. 2009). Drug addiction leads to depression which then causes loss of motivation and energy and other times; the addicts may start to feel worthless. The moods of people who are addicted to ecstasy, marijuana or even alcohol may be low, and they may start to withdraw themselves from their friends and family members. Also, other psychological effects of suicidal thoughts may start to be experienced by the addicts of these drugs (Gilpin, 2014). On the other hand, certain drugs such as marijuana can make a person to get addicted to them while they try to ease their depression using that drug. In other words, a non-addict to marijuana and who is experiencing depression from other drugs such as alcohol or due to a natural/family circumstances may decide to use marijuana so as to lower their depression (Heim, 2014). Continued use of this drug will lead to addiction, and hence they may start to experience other psychological problems such as loss of motivation and energy and increased apathy/laziness (Le Merrer et al. 2009).


In conclusion, people should be aware of the harmful effects of the drugs they want to involve themselves with rather than just looking at the immediate outcomes of feeling high (personal pleasure). Also, other than just looking at the physical effects of using drugs or of being addicted to drugs such as marijuana, alcohol and Ecstasy, people should also be aware of the possible psychological harm/damage caused by these drugs.





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