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The Chemistry of Addiction

Fantastic Chemistry project that will amaze and astound you :D

Alec Fairbanks

on 9 January 2013

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Transcript of The Chemistry of Addiction

well, these things are addictive for many reasons; some important ones are that after prolonged exposure to addictive substances your brain (in an attempt to balance things out) will decrease the amount of neurotransmitters/receivers available. The user then has to up the dosage to experience that same high. this is called a Hypofunctioning Reward System, and is why we build up immunities to certain drugs. Also; using certain drugs causes neurotransmitters that are strongly associated with memory, like dopamine & glutamate, to be released; which reinforces habit. THE CHEMISTRY OF: Addiction Alcohol Amphetomines Thank You!!!!!!!! Amphetamines work by forcing your brain to release excess amounts of dopamine, and the inhibiting their reabsorbtion, giving the user a strong feeling of pleasure. Limbic System First things first; what exactly is an addiction? So what that means is that an addiction is a dependance you can't control. And the term "addiction" doesn't just apply to substance dependance, you can be addicted to certain actions or behaviors like: gambling, intercourse, and even something as seemingly harmless as eating chocolate! So how does a person become addicted to a substance or behavior? And how does this all happen in your brain? An addictive substance either effects your brain by imitating these Neurotransmitters, stimulating an increase in the amount produced, or hindering their reabsorbtion. These Neurotransmitters allow for signals to travel across synapses (which are gaps between nerve cells) and are usually reabsorbed after use. The Limbic System reacts to these messages from the nervous system by releasing certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Look! There are two kinds of neurotransmitters: Inhibitory Neurotransmitters work to calm target cells down; to keep things nice, and mellow. Excitatory Neurotransmitters work to (what else?) excite target cells, by firing them up with chemical energy. Alcohol effects your brain by increasing the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is an inhibitory and is in charge of slowing the activity of neurons in your brain (It also releases small amounts of dopamine but as of yet not much is know about this process). after a while your brain's GABA receptors desensitized, which basically means that your neurons won't absorb enough GABA to calm down, leaving your bran in an exited state, when your not drinking. This is why drunks sometimes get the shakes. Well, an addiction (as defined by the Medilexicon medical dictionary) is a Habitual psychological or physiologic dependence on a substance or practice that is beyond voluntary control INHIBITORY EXCITATORY & Well, most of the chemistry behind addiction happens in the part of our brains called the Limbic system. The Limbic system (nicknamed the reward center of the brain) is a series of structures at the center of our brains that responds to messages from the nervous system. (These are the ones you should watch out for) Your brain produces at least 100 different neurotransmitters (and we're discovering new ones all the time!) Here are a few important ones to keep in mind: Norepinephrine
GABA Different substances use neurotransmitters in different ways and therefore affect your brain in different ways. But WHY are these things so addictive??? Opiates (Heroin, Codeine, Morphine) Opiates are some of the most addictive substances on EARTH. They're chemical structure is very similar Endorphin's (a natural neurotransmitter for painkilling) and bind to neurons reserved for endorphin in large numbers; amplifying endorphins effect, and creating a sense of euphoria. Opiates create a reaction way more powerful than any natural stimulus, so once a person has experienced this, they're brain begins to desperately crave that feeling. Okay, so now lets look specifically at how few different kinds of drugs and behaviors affect your brain. Sources: http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/i/i_03/i_03_m/i_03_m_par/i_03_m_par_amphetamine.html http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/addiction/ http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/addiction.htm https://www.courts.state.mn.us/?page=1898 http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/genpsyneurotransmitters.html http://www.ceida.net.au/stimulants/amphetamine-type.asp
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