One of our learning focuses this week is on drug use on the most extraordinarily complex and fine-tuned of human organisms, the brain. Often, drugs are taken for the first time by choice out of a desire to feel pleasure, mood elevation or stress reduction or merely out of curiosity with no expectation of what the experience will be like. First-time drug use produces varying physiological reactions, impact durations and after effects post-use, depending on the substance and the user.
Drug use carries a multitude of risks including first exposure reactions and overdose which can occur at any time, and addiction with accompanying health deterioration caused by chronic use. Repeated use disrupts the delicate brain system balance needed for normal functioning in ways that persist even after use cessation, eventually replacing a person’s healthy state needs and desires with a singular focus on acquiring and ingesting enough of the drug to “feel normal.” In saying they will do whatever it takes, including sometimes unfortunately further health and well-being risking behaviors, to avoid being “sick” persons who struggle with addiction and dependence on drugs are referring to needing to maintain a particular level of a drug in their systems just to be able to function minimally because their body chemistry has been so altered by use of that very drug that an absence of it results in withdrawal accompanied by the same symptoms that are produced when one is medically ill.
For this discussion, go to the website http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/substance-abuse-and-mental-health/index.shtml click through the links on the website and review their materials. After reading and/or viewing what is on the page that link takes you to, share what you learned from it with the class. Why did it catch your attention? Summarize what you found on the site. What three things of importance did you learn from accessing it? How do your findings connect to Chapter 15?