Drugs, such as cocaine and alcohol, typically exert their effect at the synapse between two neurons. When this effect occurs in the pleasure/reward center of the brain, the drug can become addictive, making you crave more and more. Typically, this addiction involves either increasing the amount or prolonging the effect of the neurotransmitter dopamine. More dopamine means more happy.
Use the instructions below to investigate how drugs affect the brain and how they become addictive...
- Go to the following website: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/
- On the left side of the page complete the activities Make a Mad, Mad, Mad Neuron and Crossing the Divide. Also complete the Reward Pathway Reinforces Behavior slide show.
- On the right side of the page, complete the activity Mouse Party. Also click the links and read Drug Delivery Methods, Beyond the Reward Pathway, How Drugs Can Kill, and Brain Imaging Technologies. You should also explore Drugs of Abuse.
- Read Brain Facts Chapter 11: Addiction