Mechanism of Drug Addiction in the Brain, Animation.


Addiction is a neurological disorder that
affects the reward system in the brain. In a healthy person, the reward system reinforces
important behaviors that are essential for survival such as eating, drinking, sex, and
social interaction. For example, the reward system ensures that you reach for food when
you are hungry, because you know that after eating you will feel good. In other words,
it makes the activity of eating pleasurable and memorable, so you would want to do it
again and again whenever you feel hungry. Drugs of abuse hijack this system, turning
the person’s natural needs into drug needs. The brain consists of billions of neurons,
or nerve cells, which communicate via chemical messages, or neurotransmitters. When a neuron
is sufficiently stimulated, an electrical impulse called an action potential is generated
and travels down the axon to the nerve terminal. Here, it triggers the release of a neurotransmitter
into the synaptic cleft – a space between neurons. The neurotransmitter then binds to
a receptor on a neighboring neuron, generating a signal in it, thereby transmitting the information
to that neuron. The major reward pathways involve transmission
of the neurotransmitter dopamine from the ventral tegmental area – the VTA – of the
midbrain to the limbic system and the frontal cortex. Engaging in enjoyable activities generates
action potentials in dopamine-producing neurons of the VTA. This causes dopamine release from
the neurons into the synaptic space. Dopamine then binds to and stimulates dopamine-receptor
on the receiving neuron. This stimulation by dopamine is believed to produce the pleasurable
feelings or rewarding effect. Dopamine molecules are then removed from the synaptic space and
transported back in to the transmitting neuron by a special protein called dopamine-transporter.
Most drugs of abuse increase the level of dopamine in the reward pathway. Some drugs
such as alcohol, heroin, and nicotine indirectly excite the dopamine-producing neurons in the
VTA so that they generate more action potentials. Cocaine acts at the nerve terminal. It binds
to dopamine-transporter and blocks the re-uptake of dopamine. Methamphetamine – a psychostimulant
– acts similarly to cocaine in blocking dopamine removal. In addition, it can enter
the neuron, into the dopamine-containing vesicles where it triggers dopamine release even in
the absence of action potentials. Different drugs act different way but the
common outcome is that dopamine builds-up in the synapse to a much greater amount than
normal. This causes a continuous stimulation, maybe over-stimulation of receiving neurons
and is responsible for prolonged and intense euphoria experienced by drug users. Repeated
exposure to dopamine surges caused by drugs eventually de-sensitizes the reward system.
The system is no longer responsive to everyday stimuli; the only thing that is rewarding
is the drug. That is how drugs change the person’s life priority. After some time,
even the drug loses its ability to reward and higher doses are required to achieve the
rewarding effect. This ultimately leads to drug overdose.

69 thoughts on “Mechanism of Drug Addiction in the Brain, Animation.

  1. so helpful, please make more to cover GABA inhibition, glutamate on learning, & cannabinoid inhibition, it would be the best if you could!

  2. There are many factors in giving up smoking including eg motivation and help from family.
    One place I discovered that succeeds in merging these is the Quit Smoking Crusher (check it out on google) without a doubt the most useful idea that I've seen.
    look at all the site and super reviews.

  3. I think we should be treating drug addiction as a health issue vs. a criminal issue. The way we do it is costing us horribly both financially and in overall morale. We created a war on our own people in the 80's and 90's with the epidemic of crack cocaine on African Americans. At that time the name of the game was mass incarceration and harsher sentencing and we called it a war on drugs – a war on our own people. There have been many casualties in that war. We need to reevaluate many of those harsher sentences. Especially, as now it is scientifically proven that harsher drugs like crack cocaine high-jack the brain. Let me give you just one example – just one of literally thousands – of
    someone whose sentence should be reconsidered, especially in light of the new thoughts
    about addiction — Lenny Singleton (shown in the profile pic).

    Lenny committed 8 "grab & dash" robberies in a 7 day period while high on alcohol and crack cocaine to fund his crack addiction. He did not have a gun. He did not kill anyone. In fact, no one was physically injured and not one person filed against him as a "victim." He stole a total of less than $550 and these were his first felonies. He wasn't part of a gang or a habitual criminal. He earned a college degree and served in our Navy before he allowed his addiction to destroy his life. What he needed was some help with his addiction.

    What he got was 2 Life Sentences plus 100 years with no chance of parole. The judge, without any explanation to Lenny or the courtroom as documented by his court transcripts, sentenced Lenny to more time than repeat violent offenders, rapists, child molesters, and murderers. Lenny would be the first to tell you he needed to do some time, but he didn't need to have his life taken away from him. Murderers in the state that Lenny
    is incarcerated in have been given 17 years and will walk free while Lenny
    remains in prison.
    Lenny, while incarcerated these past 20+ years, works every business day in a position of authority, lives in the Honor's Dorm, takes every available class for self-improvement
    offered, and in his spare time, he has co-authored and published a book to help others headed down the same path called, "Love Conquers All," available now on Amazon. During
    the entire 20+ years he has been in prison, he has not received a single infraction for anything – very rare for lifers. He is deserving of a second chance.
    To keep Lenny behind bars for the rest of his life will cost taxpayers well over a million dollars – for stealing less than $550 in crimes where no one was physically injured. This makes absolutely no sense on any level. And smarter sentencing in Lenny's case would be a reduction of cost to the American taxpayer. His case should be reconsidered. That million plus dollars would be better spent on rehabilitation services or preventative education or rebuilding infrastructures – anything rather than keeping 1 man who stole less than $550 in crimes where no one was physically injured behind bars for the rest of his life. When you multiple this by the literally thousands of cases all across the country you begin to understand the magnitude of the problem. It is time for true criminal justice reform in this country.

    Please learn more about Lenny Singleton and sign his petition at www.justice4lenny.org.
    Justice will not have been served if Lenny dies in prison.

  4. Do the chemicals in the cigarette also play a role in how nicotine affects the brain?
    What about vaping e-liquid that has 3mg nicotine in it?
    It's not as bad as smoke in the lungs, but does it have the same effects as cigarettes with nicotine even though it doesn't have all of the other chemicals?

  5. Have you made a video that discusses how alcohol affects the brain? This video seems to be more about street drugs than alcohol. I understand that the mechanism might be similar, but it would be helpful to have a separate video that discusses alcohol only.  If I know a person who might have a problem with alcohol, I can't really sent them this video or they will think that I'm calling them a drug addict. Alcohol needs a separate video. And PLEASE use a real, human voice. Those computerized voices don't sound very professional at all and they don't pronounce or inflect words correctly.  Thank you. 🙂

  6. wow .. can we consider porn for years an addiction ? porn =same effects of drugs?

    i know its not the same intensity but i think im porn addict .. i lost pleasure activities and i literally lost libido .. i cant enjoy eating or gaming . or even people

    aee there tests u can do to know if u have low brain chemistry .. dopamine?

  7. We take cocaine & methamphetamine with the mouth, how does it go into our brain? Why are these drug transmitter bigger in sizes than neurotransmitters? Why nothing else (food, water, juices, drink) travels into the brain the same way cocaine & methamphetamine travels?

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  9. great video!
    I am a maladaptive daydreamer and I am tryna get over my addiction to daydreaming 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

  10. It was really awesome presentation of drug addiction treatment. Rapid opiate detox is a relatively new method of treating opiate addiction. Because it can be accomplished quickly and privately, opiate rapid detox is an attractive option for people who want to avoid the fallout of having their drug dependence publicly known.

  11. Is it possible to repair the normal function of dopamine transmission/re-uptake? I am a long term meth user. Used constantly for at least 12 years. Never got psychotic or crazy – just sleep deprived at times. And totally dependent in order to function "normally". Been clean for a year and a half now and will never go back to using. But oh, the depression, the lethargy and the lack of motivation. Will I ever be able to experience true happiness again? If not, my life is as good as over. I just can't go on living like this. I used to be motivated and creative (both before and while using) but now I'm going broke because I'm self employed but too hopeless to kick my own ass into gear. I hate myself. A nasty and expensive divorce has only amplified the misery. I'm lucky to have found a lovely caring lady who cares deeply for (loves) me but she is, quite naturally bewildered and disappointed by my depression and lack of motivation. I don't blame her. I want so much to love her in return but it's like all the love in me has dried up.

    Meth sucks the life and soul out of you. I would be horrified if I found out one of my kids was using it. "Fortunately" I didn't start until much later in life…around 40. Stupidest thing I ever did!

  12. Overdose (especially lethal) actually occurs most often after a period of sobriety. With heroin, it's the respiratory depression that most often results in death, and tolerance to that effect develops along with a tolerance to the high. It's the decrease in tolerance that occurs during sobriety. An ensuing relapse where the user attempts to use roughly what they were prior to detox has a much more marked response. This can happen in as short a span as week or two as well.

  13. Incredible video. All the reading I do I still found it hard to really grasp the process, but this video explained it completely in a nutshell! Wish I found it sooner

  14. I'm studying pharmacology. This stuff is so damn interesting to me… specially when it's deeper like pharmacodynamics and pharmakinetics.

  15. If this video is helpful to you, please consider supporting our next projects. As a token of our appreciation, we also offer early video access and free image downloads in return, please check us out here: https://www.patreon.com/AlilaMedicalMedia

  16. how do you fix this problem to balance the reward system and make it normal again? Is there any supplement to take? I read that uridine can help but I don't understand the mechanism of action.

  17. Do those prone to addiction have lower natural levels of dopamine or dopamine receptors? I struggled off and on with addiction. Since I was a child I've had a flat mood and seldom smile or feel contentment. It was always noticeable to others long before my addiction. Try as I might I have never felt the reward the video talks about. People would even get angry with me for not feeling happy. When I was a toddler my older brother used to humiliate me and hit me whenever I looked happy. He would snuff out my happy feeling. It went on from age 3 until I was 10. The psychologist told me I missed the developmental phase needed and that what my brother did was psychological torture common in psychopaths.

  18. Trauma with men= sex isn't safe. Food sensitivity= food isn't safe. Unreliable friends= social interactions not worth it when not equal efforts. No wonder I hijacked the system that tells me to do all of those things!!!

  19. Hello! I’m a student in Korea and I uploaded a Korean subtitle for this video yesterday. Please check it and (if you like) confirm it. Thanks

  20. This was a beautiful explanation that gets to the core of the issue.

    By studying addiction and how it affects the brain you understand how the brain works, how adhd pills or antidepressant ssri also work.

    You really can visualize how good a feeling cocaine or meth gives you and the reason why it destroys lives.

    Because it is so fucking good you don't care about anything else.

  21. The thing is that all humans have this substans in oure brain… and when they take something that have same substance it make the feeling 10 or 100 times more… after a while that feeling even on drogs disapears and the problem for the suciety be that we have zombis walking around with no feelings about what righ or wrong.. they do as the want not if the feeling is right or not…. the brain have been damaged and the feeling substans to … walking dead! so sad.. :´( dont do drogs..!!!

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