Motivation and the Brain in Refraining from Drug Use

Topics: Addiction, Brain, Drug addiction Pages: 4 (1266 words) Published: March 27, 2011
Motivation and the Brain in Refraining From Drug Use
Neuroscience and psychology have been working hand in hand for some time now to determine why and how behaviors occur in human personality, and what motivates individuals to do what they do. Perhaps one of the most studied phenomena that affects motivation, the thought processes, and social interactivity, is the study of drug addiction. The study of drug addiction has benefited greatly from advances in scanning and imaging technology such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) (Volkow, Fowler, and Wang, 2003). Through the course of this paper, we shall look at brain structures and functions most affected in drug addicted individuals, extrinsic and intrinsic motivators to refrain from drug use, as well as biological and environmental factors relating to recovery. Physical changes in the brain are associated with chronic substance abuse, having a large impact on brain functioning and emotional states. An exceptionally large body of neuroimaging studies have shown that the brain is dramatically changed in structure over medium to long-term drug use, which affects cravings, tolerance, withdrawal, and cue reactivity even after treatment and long periods of abstinence (Dennis & Scott, 2007). Drug use causes rather sudden and large increases in dopamine within the brain causing sudden feelings of euphoria, which is the main reinforcer of drug use. However, neurochemical studies have shown that chronic drug abuse causes a decrease in overall dopamine production. This effect is even more pronounced during any period of withdrawal, and is most pronounced during complete detoxification. Frontal regions of the brain, primarily the orbitofrontal cortex and cingulate gyrus, are most affected by these decreases, causing a dysfunction in brain activity in these areas (Volkow, et al, 2003). According to Volkow, et al, Motivation 3

“Functional imaging studies have shown that...

References: Dennis, M. & Scott, C. (December, 2007). Managing addiction as a chronic condition. Addiction
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treatment. Alcohol Research & Health. 23(2) Retrieved November 16, 2008, from http://
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Leshner, A. (2007). Addiction is a brain disease. University of Texas at Dallas. Retrieved
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