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The Mind On Drugs Essay

2172 words - 9 pages

The Mind On Drugs 1









The History of Drugs and Its Effect on the Brains Reward System

The Mind On Drugs:

Addiction and Its Effect on the Human Brain


Leila Badii

National University











The Mind on Drugs: Addiction and its Effects on the Brain

              The role of psychoactive drugs throughout the history of mankind dates back well before 4000 B.C. These drugs have served as a vital tool in many cultures, as well as a horrible hindrance throughout the world. What is it about drugs that mankind find so fascinating, and at times, totally irresistible? Those who have been ...view middle of the document...

But the reason why addiction is so controlling is that it alters the most basic brain functions. Current research shows that the brains reward system has much to do with drug addiction.

                            Psychoactive drugs are categorized according to their effect on the central nervous system. The nervous system is a complex arrangement of neurological pathways that process and sort information. Drugs, either addictive or non-addictive work in the brains synapse. Antagonists block the effect of the neurotransmitter while agonists mimic the effects of a neurotransmitter. The most commonly know agonists are opioids. A growing popularity in the abuse of opiates had much to do with its affects on the brains reward system. Opiates act on the endorphin neurotransmitters. The reasons why opiates are so widely used and addictive are because of its ability to treat a vast variety of conditions ranging from a cough suppressant to painkillers.                                                  

              The use of opiates dates back thousands of years and was thought to be the world’s first authentic antidepressant. (Kuhn, 2003) Unlike ethyl alcohol, it didn’t impair sensory perception. In the Middle East, Opium was used in social settings. It was used in teas made with opium poppies (Kuhn, 2008). Opium has been used throughout the history of the United States. Before the FDA, it was the main ingredient in most medications, which made it a common household item. Tuberculosis was spreading throughout North America causing a greater need for opioids for its medicinal use as a cough suppressant (Blachford, 2003) Due to the rising availability and use; the drugs addictive qualities became more prevalent. During the American Civil War, soldiers were freely given opiate analgesics such as laudanum, an alcohol herbal liquid containing a high concentration of morphine and codeine (Ledoux, 2002). In the meantime, scientists were changing its chemical compounds to make the drug more potent. This new drug was called morphine. In 1898, the Bayer Company put its finally touches on this new purified morphine. They added an extra chemical to make it more fat-soluble. This new and improved chemical compound became heroin (Kuhn, 2008). By 1898, the Bayer Company had advertised it as the new wonder drug and soon was on store shelves all over the world. Soon it would be known that heroin would become more addictive and abused than morphine. From the time heroin was created, to present day, opiates have been characterized as a narcotic. Opium producing countries are always growing more powerful along with drug lords and the drug trade. The death toll is on the rise due to brutal drugs wars and overdoses.

              Among the worlds most abused drugs is alcohol, known also as ethyl or ethanol. This liquid product derived from distilled fermented fruits, vegetables, and grains, is one of most widely accepted drugs in the world. Its use dates back...

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