How Addiction Affects The Brain

August 5, 2022

Dr. Ashish Bhatt, MD explains how addiction affects the brain, and how different substances can alter the brain’s chemistry.


Dr. Bhatt: Hi, this is Dr. Bhatt, medical content director at Take a brief moment from Straight Talk With The Doc and speak a little bit about how addiction affects the brain and how it changes our brain. Addiction is first defined as a chronic brain disease and nobody knows beforehand how substances, drugs, or alcohol are going to have an effect on our brain before we use them. But ultimately, when we have chronic exposure to drugs or alcohol, changes occur.

Certain anatomy, meaning the areas of the brain change and the brain’s chemistry, the hormones, the chemicals that are effecting the brain start the alter. For every action a drug has, the body tends to produce the equal and opposite reaction, and this often happens because of a feedback mechanism. Drugs that make you feel good, our body will alter to lower the chemicals that are excessively produced by that drug. Simultaneously, drugs that make us go down are drugs our body will alter and create chemicals to combat these things. Over time, this creates tolerance and adaptation to the drugs that are in our bodies and our systems, and this creates long-term deficits.

So, over time addiction creates a relationship where somebody needs to continue to pursue using that drug, in order to create a certain type of reward, and that motivation reoccurs. That embeds in our memory, and in order for us to have that pleasurable effect, we continue to use despite negative and detrimental effects. This cycle continues to go on and on in almost an obsessive and compulsive manner.

The unfortunate part is, after the drug has entered and become accustomed to our body, once the drug is removed, our body will often go through significant withdrawal and the cycle plays out in us pursuing this all over again, despite everything going wrong in our lives. If you are suffering from addiction or a loved one is suffering from addiction or substance use disorder, there is help out there. offers multiple resources and information that can connect you with proper treatment center that could help you achieve recovery and sobriety.