People often blame their actions on being drunk or high, and it’s become so commonplace that there are phrases like “hold my beer” before attempting a risky or ill-advised stunt. Many people know that drugs and alcohol can affect decision-making, and today, the professionals at Live Free SSL are breaking down exactly how they do so.

How Does Alcohol Affect Behavior?

If you’re concerned about your drinking, you aren’t alone. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that over half of all American adults were current drinkers of alcohol at the time of the 2015 national survey.

Alcohol, although it’s a depressant, can often start making people more inhibited. It increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, which is the “happy hormone,” or the one responsible for sending pleasure signals. This gives the “buzz” that many drinkers seek. Alcohol also raises levels of GABA, which is a chemical that sends out relaxation messages from the brain. It aids in lowering anxiety and stress and can cause your body temperature to drop and your heart rate and blood pressure to come down.

Alcohol also increases the levels of norepinephrine in your brain, which acts as a stimulant. Norepinephrine Also increases arousal and excitement, plus increases impulsivity, making it harder to appreciate the consequences of your actions. This particular effect can contribute to risky sexual behavior, too.

Finally, alcohol inhibits the activity of your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that helps you think rationally and is involved in your decision-making abilities. This is the part of the brain responsible for thinking clearly and rationally, and it’s the part that controls your ability to make good decisions. When you drink, the alcohol in your bloodstream disrupts your ability to choose responsibly, and you’ll act without thinking about the consequences of your actions.

How Do Opioids Affect the Brain?

Opioids are primarily used as painkillers, but excessive use of these substances can have a significant effect on your behavior and decision-making. Chronic opiate abuse turns the brain into a chemically imbalanced environment. Opiates act on (and damage) the part of the brain that’s known as the “reward system” part. That is, the changes in the brain from opiates end up removing the natural reward center function of the brain, such as completing tasks, achieving goals, and even personal hygiene, and makes the pursuit of and use of the drug as the ultimate, and sometimes only, reward.

How Do Ampehtimines Affect the Brain?

Amphetamines, called “uppers” include stimulant chemicals and methamphetamine, one of the most common addictions among Americans. These particular drugs target the areas of the brain responsible for executive function, aka decision-making. With prolonged amphetamine use, these parts of the brain can atrophy, reducing the ability to restrain impulsivity and control decision making. The subsequent result is the brain targeting the next “high” and use of the drug above any other protocol.

Are You Struggling With Addiction?

If you struggle with addiction to drugs or alcohol, we can help Live Free SSI is an addiction recovery center that specializes in helping people understand the nature of addiction and overcome their addiction and lead a fulfilling life free from addiction. We offer several different levels of addiction treatment, from inpatient treatment to outpatient therapy and aftercare assistance. Call us today for a compassionate assessment, and start your journey to healing today!