Occasional Stimulant Use Changes Brain Of Users | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Occasional Stimulant Use Changes Brain Of Users

A new research study shows that even part-time stimulant use can alter brain chemistry.

Image: 

Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

03/31/14

| Share

New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience has shown that even occasional use of stimulant drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines can change the brains of users. Researchers evaluated college students between the ages of 18-24 who were identified as occasional stimulant users, meaning they had taken the drugs an average of 12 to 15 times.

The students were shown an 'X' or an 'O' on a screen and instructed to press a left button if an X appeared or a right button if an O appeared. The findings showed that the occasional users had faster reaction times than those who hadn’t tried stimulants, but made more mistakes and showed decreased performance as the tasks became harder. The faster reaction times were also a likely display of their impulsivity which relates to their drug use.

“If you show me 100 college students and tell me which ones have taken stimulants a dozen times, I can tell you those students’ brains are different,” said Dr. Martin Paulus, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. “Our study is telling us, it’s not ‘this is your brain on drugs,’ it’s ‘this is the brain that does drugs.’” Lead author Katia Harle, a postdoctoral researcher in the Paulus laboratory, said the findings showed that stimulant users could have an impaired ability to anticipate a situation and to detect trends in when they need to stop.”

In a separate study, Joshua Jones, PhD, said that stimulant drugs like cocaine affect the orbitofrontal cortex and ultimately “hijack” the decision making process in the brain. "[This damage] may decrease a person’s ability to use prior experience to make good decisions on the fly,” explained Jones. “The person isn’t able to consider the whole continuum of the decision—the mind’s map of how choices play out further down the road. Instead, the person is going to regress to habitual behavior, gravitating toward the choice that provides the most value in its immediate reward.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
Normies React to the 12 Steps

"I think admitting to having a problem in general is the right first step, but to admit powerlessness is unhealthy. .. I think admitting powerlessness is more harmful because it doesn't help. Admitting that you want and need help is more useful after admittance."

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv