EWC presents Addiction and the Human Brain
February 10, 2009
TORRINGTON, WY -
Eastern Wyoming College Student Services will present a workshop "Addiction and the Human Brain" on Wednesday, February 18, 12:00 noon-1:00p.m., in Tebbet Room 131, by Dr. Rick Patterson, Criminal Justice Instructor, Eastern Wyoming College.
Drug addiction has an undeniable stigma. To many, an addict is a weak, reckless person who refuses to acknowledge the damage drug use is doing to his body and his life–someone who chooses to use drugs and values his next drug fix above all else. But cutting-edge research has found that addiction is not a matter of choice at all. In fact, drugs cause chemical and physiological changes in the brain that can make it next to impossible for addicts to stop using them without help.
Though the decision to start using drugs is obviously voluntary, over time drugs like alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin and ecstasy can hijack the brain’s ability to make a decision NOT to use. According to the latest studies, addiction is a brain disease.
Researchers have spent years studying the way drugs act on the brain. Among their findings, is the fact that drugs begin to change the user’s brain the very first time a drug is tried, with the drug-induced release of a key brain neurotransmitter called dopamine.
At first, dopamine causes an intensely pleasurable feeling, but as time and drug use progress, the brain begins to rely upon this release of dopamine. When a person becomes addicted, it means that his brain has been changed to the point that he needs the drug just to maintain a minimal or normal level of functioning.
All of this has a special significance for teenagers. New studies have shown that teens are more vulnerable to addiction than adults, particularly as it relates to the teen’s frontal lobes, the area of the brain responsible for decision making and planning, and in consideration of future consequences of their actions.
The program "Addiction and the Human Brain" will delve into the latest medical findings about drugs and the way they act on the brain, giving participants the new information they need to fully realize the consequences of drug use. For, the better we understand the physical effects of drugs, the better prepared we are to help drug addicts recover and, perhaps more importantly, to ensure that we and our friends never take those first steps down the path to addiction.
The program "Addiction and the Human Brain" will:
discuss the concept of addiction as a brain disease;
explain how different parts of the brain correspond to different life functions;
grasp how drugs interfere with neuron communication in the brain;
explain how dopamine and the reward pathway reinforce both survival behavior and drug use;
identify why teenagers are more vulnerable to drug addiction than adults;
distinguish between tolerance, dependence and addiction;
give neurologically based reasons for common drug use behavior;
describe the compulsive nature of addiction;
understand that drug use as a teenager makes one more likely to use drugs as an adult; and;
explain why cravings and relapses often occur for recovering addicts This educational workshop is open to the public at no charge. For more information and/or to pre-register, please contact Anne Gardetto, EWC Student Services, at 307.532.8328.