Effects of drugs on the brain

Essay by dlindleyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, June 2005

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Drugs have become a very serious problem in the United States. They have

become a component of one's every day lives. This Nation's reliance on drugs for

pleasure, depression, and medical relief dominates the political and economic scene.

Much debate over the drug issue occurs daily. Drugs such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol are legal drugs and drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroine are illegal but all of these drugs affect our brains and transform out lives.

Drugs bind to receptor sites on the outer membranes of cells. Like a key that must fit a lock, the drug molecule has to fit a receptor; otherwise it has no effect. If it fits, then the drug can interfere with transmissions between neurons in one of two ways: Some drugs cause neurons to fire again and again. Other dugs stop neurons from firing. These drugs block receptors in the brain and prevent neurons from sending their message.

There are hundreds of different drugs, each with its particular effect on the body's nervous system. For instance, narcotics are a series of drugs that affect the mind, causing mental changes. The United States Government will not allow new drugs to be prescribed by a doctor or sold by a pharmacist until the drug has been thoroughly tested and proven to be medically safe. These tests take as long as years to be approved for public use. Unstable drugs are street drugs such as crack, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and MDMA that are made up of several chemical substances that are produced illegally under poor circumstances. Some drugs that are stable are still highly addictive and can cause a number of problems in an individual's life. Certain drugs are responsible for killing thousands of people each year. Those who escape death are sometimes confined to...