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Substances and Your Brain

Your brain is what makes you you. It allows you to think, breathe, speak, and feel. The brain is always working, processing information so we can function properly. When substances enter your system, they mess with your brain’s typical functionality and can eventually lead to negative changes in how it works.


What does “getting high” really mean?

We used to believe that the “high” you feel while using substances was because of dopamine – “the happy hormone.” Now, we know that it’s a lot more complicated. Many substances affect your brain’s “reward system.” This system remembers where you are and who you are with when you use substances, leading you to seek those places and people out again. These patterns then reinforce the desire to use substances more and more often.

How Substances
Affect Your Brain

The Long Lasting Truth

Using substances now could impact your life forever. Continued substance use can cause depression, anxiety, panic attacks, aggression, paranoia, and more. Long term use can also impact your ability to remember and concentrate. SUD can also lead to other diseases.

Cardiovascular Disease
Caused by: Stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamines
Liver Disease
Caused by: Chronic use of alcohol and substances
Respiratory Problems
Caused by: Substances you smoke or inhale
Caused by: Taking too much of any substance or taking multiple substances together
Kidney Damage
Caused by: Heroin, ketamine, and synthetic cannabinoids