rumor among adolescents is that some drugs are safe.
This is particularly the perception for one of the
most popular teen drugs known as Ecstasy. Ecstasy
as well cocaine, alcohol,crack and even marijuana
can do serious lifelong damage to the brain and subsequently
to one's quality of life.
The lifelong factor results from the brain's amazing
ability to overcompensate and repair itself. The brain
seeks "sameness", a condition known as homeostasis.
When things are in balance,
the status quo is met, and the brain repair system
appears content. But when things get out of balance,
the repair department comes to life and reacts quickly.
Drugs work in the brain by mimicking natural chemicals,
called neurotransmitters. By imitating these chemicals
the drugs can override the system and keep pleasure
centers and other regions active much longer than
normal. But the brain will eventually try to correct
this error. Some brains respond to the imbalance quicker
first line of defense in the brain's repair department
is to reduce the amount of chemical that the brain
produces on it's own. That reduction leads to the
drug user's perception of tolerance. Since the brain
has compensated for the increase of artificial chemical
by reducing production of natural chemical the drug
effect is reduced and the user has to increase the
The second line of defense is for the brain to reduce
receptor sites, or locations on nerve cells that chemicals
can attach to. If the chemicals can't attach, they
can't work. Sometimes this
removal can be permanent.
come the "lifelong damage" scenario. Once natural
chemical production is reduced and receptor sites
are removed, the user has little hope for speedy or
even successful withdrawal.
The drug user who wants to quit the drug use is left
with a brain that no longer works correctly. There
is no restore program currently available that will
set the brain back to its original condition of chemical
levels and receptor sites. The user has to just wait
it out and hope the brain will heal itself.
it does. Sometimes, it doesn't.