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Science
THE CHEMISTRY OF ADDICTION
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What addiction does to the brain.
Monday 14 April 2008 and 21 April 2008  9.00-3.30pm

Graham Easton talks to scientists and drug users on how drugs affect the brain, the effects of lasting damage and who’s likely to become an addict. 

Radio 4 Health programmes
Syringe and razor blade for heroin and cocaine

Programme 1

From indulging in the occasional glass of wine to being ruled by the heroin needle, this series aims to explain how the brain deals with drugs, what it takes to become addicted and if we can identify future addicts before the rot sets in.

We know now that drugs work on four areas of the brain: the parts that monitor control, motivation and drive, memory and learning and the reward system.

It seems that drugs alter the reward and motivation areas of the brain. Thus, the addict becomes more and more reckless in their attempts to obtain the reward – the high from the drug.

Research is also being carried out to study whether impulseness could have a bearing on the nature of addiction. 

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.

Programme 2

Once you are addicted, how can you be treated?

There are many new treatments available that work on different receptors in the brain – trying to block the areas that are stimulated by the drug and thus reducing their effects on the brain.

Some of these treatments also reduce the cravings for the drug.

However, there is worrying news for alcoholics. 

Research suggests that each time someone detoxes from alcohol, they permanently alter their brains, and the more times you detox, the more changes that occur.

 


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