Withdrawal Explained: How Drugs Affect The Brain

Withdrawal from drugs is a complex neurological phenomenon that can cause profound emotional and physical discomfort. Understanding exactly how withdrawal works provides important insights into the nature of addiction as a chronic brain disorder, and offers possibilities for alleviating distress during the withdrawal process.

Drugs are psychoactive substances that disrupt normal neurotransmitter activity to activate the brain’s reward system. Repeated use of all drug types can result in sustained physiological changes as the brain suppresses its natural production of neurotransmitters to compensate for artificially introduced chemicals. As a result of this neuro-adaptation, the brain comes to depend on increasing amounts of the drug to maintain chemical equilibrium. When supply of the drug is interrupted, the brain finds itself with a shortage of critical neurotransmitters, leading to a host of observable and unobservable withdrawal symptoms as it struggles to regain balance.

Depending on the type of drug you are withdrawing from and the amount used, you may experience either physical or emotional distress, or a combination of both during the detoxification process; it is vital to recognize that withdrawal symptoms that aren’t readily observable in the body are just as real as those that are. Seeking medical support during detox can ensure that you stay safe and comfortable, reducing the potential for traumatic or dangerous withdrawal experiences and enhancing your well-being in early recovery.

For a more extensive understanding of how drugs and withdrawal affect the brain, we invite you to explore the infographic below, and encourage you to share it with others. Together, we can help people end the pain of addiction and create freedom from substance abuse.

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