The Psychological Effects from Drug Abuse
There is no doubt that drugs and alcohol hurt the brain and emotions. Drugs and alcohol are used to change how a person feels and experiences the world around them.
From decades of addiction research, we know now that drug abuse and alcohol abuse represent someone trying to self-medicate. Fortunately, the available treatment is evidence-based and focuses on the person’s emotional and mental health before, during, and after the drug use started. In addition, rehab programs have improved to address why someone desires to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs, and they are working.
Why Does Drug Abuse Affect the Mind?
There is no doubt that drugs and alcohol hurt the brain and emotions. Drugs and alcohol are used to change how a person feels and experiences the world around them. The reward pathway in the brain determines our behaviors and motivations, and it allows ordinary people not to notice mild physical pain. Whenever someone uses a substance known to disrupt the reward center and pathway, they affect how they perceive their experiences. And, in time, the brain of a drug abuser will no longer be able to distinguish pleasure without the presence of a substance.
The mind is a product of the working brain, and all mental processes (memory, cognition, learning, emotions, behavior, love, and empathy) have a neural basis. (NIH)
How Does Drug Addiction Affect Behavior?
When people are using drugs or are addicted to them, they will notice that their behavior changes drastically. People take drugs to feel different and better about themselves. There is no question that drugs will allow them to achieve this; the problem is that they will not be themselves when they are high. Then they will have to defend their drug-escaping through lying, minimizing, and deceiving others as well as themselves. Drastic behavior and personality changes occur because of the effects of drugs on the reward center, leading to more use and more dependence or desire to use it more often.
Most Common Psychological Reactions Indicating Drug Abuse
There are numerous psychological effects of drug and alcohol addictions. Depression, aggression, criminal activity, promiscuity, stealing and lying, lack of self-care, neglecting spouses and children, etc. Still, the mental effects of drugs will cause the following to occur regardless of the type of drug or length of use or frequency. People who are abusing substances are lost but don’t fully understand why. The most common psychological effects include:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Depressive Disorders
- Personality Disorders and or Psychosis
- Shame and Guilt
- Disinterest in anything other than drug or alcohol-related activities
- Blaming and being stuck in a negative narrative about others and themselves
What Do Addiction Professionals Say About Drug Abuse?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration list the effects of drug use as behavioral, physical, and social. Several are listed here:
Behavioral Changes – Drop-in attendance and performance at work or school. Frequently getting into trouble and using substances while driving or
operating machinery. Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Lacking motivation and appearing fearful, anxious, or paranoid, no reason.
Physical Changes – Bloodshot eyes, large or small pupils. Sudden weight loss or weight gain. Deterioration of physical appearance and unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
Social Changes – Sudden change in friends, favorite hangouts, and hobbies. Legal problems related to substance use. Unexplained need for money or financial issues. Using substances even though it causes problems in relationships. (SAMHSA)
Benefits of Therapy For the Addicted Brain
After some time, once the drugs are gone, the reward pathway re-calibrates. A person’s mind can heal and even be helped positively through psychotherapy. Neurologists advocate psychotherapy to improve brain function, especially after exposure to drugs generally.
All the psychotherapeutic techniques and processes trigger/activate a series of functional alterations, wherein the conditions created by psychotherapy support neural integration, regeneration, and new learning. Psychotherapy prompts changes in the brain, not only during the psychotherapy but also for long-term after that leading to a lasting impact. (NIH)
Psychotherapy for Substance Use Disorders
Evoke Waltham provides evidence-based psychotherapy and behavioral therapy methods. Our counselors and therapists are experts in psychology and addiction sciences. The treatment programs we offer address drug abuse as a condition of the mind and emotions from various influencers. We have the experience and expertise to help even the most chronic addict or alcoholic understand how to recover from addiction to lead an emotionally stable and rewarding life. Call now to begin today.