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Drug Addiction: What are the Feel-Good Drugs?

Written by Brandon Okey. Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy.

Drugs are chemicals that can impact your body and brain, particularly feel-good drugs, which produce a temporary sense of relief.    Although drugs can make you feel stress-free for a few hours (sometimes just seconds), their negative effects can be long-lasting or permanent. Unfortunately, they can even continue when a person stops using the substance. Currently, approximately 23.5 million people suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, according to Partnership to End Addiction. One in four deaths results from illicit drug use, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse   If drugs can change the trajectory of our lives, why do people do them? Is the temporary high worth it? Continue reading to find out why people depend on illicit substances.   

Understanding Drug and Alcohol Dependency

People rely on drugs for various reasons: they want to feel euphoric and stop feeling bad, they may be curious about why their friends and family do drugs and want to fit in, or they may want to over-perform at school or at work. It is no secret that drugs can excel the part of your brain that makes you feel good; however, after taking a substance for a while, the feel-good parts of your brain become used to it. Sadly, this means you will need to take more of the drug to experience the same high.    Eventually, your brain and body will crave the drug just to feel normal and functional. Feeling sick, frightened, anxious, or irritable without the drug is inevitable. You will no longer experience the feeling of euphoria you first had when you started the drug. Although drug usage typically starts as a form of escapism, it can quickly ruin your life. Here is a list of the six most common feel-good drugs that will result in a crash.   

1. Marijuana

When marijuana’s most active ingredient, THC, reaches your brain, it can cause your brain cells to produce the feel-good chemical, dopamine. This chemical is part of your brain’s reward system, and you experience its effects when you eat your favorite foods or receive attention on social media. Your reward system will create feelings of euphoria if it is overstimulated by this drug. The more often you trigger euphoria, the less you will enjoy other rewarding experiences.   

2. Alcohol

Like all drugs, alcohol impacts your brain’s chemistry by altering your levels of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that transmit signals that control your behaviors and thoughts. This substance can slow down your thinking, heart rate, and breathing by halting your excitatory messengers, which help you calm down. Moreover, it also boosts your brain’s dopamine levels.   

3. Magic Mushrooms

The main psychoactive ingredient in shrooms, psilocybin, can quiet traditional brain activity and jump-start new connections between different parts of your brain. This means that shrooms do have some antidepressant qualities, which can make people “see sounds and hear colors.” People must understand that this drug is not all it is cut out to be, as more research is still needed to fully understand its effects. What we do know, however, is that they are as addictive as any other substance.   Furthermore, they can cause unpleasant hallucinations and increase a person’s anxiety levels.   

4. Ecstasy

Ecstasy, also known as MDMA or molly, can alter the activity of at least three of your neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin; they play a crucial role in maintaining our mood. For example, this 2013 study demonstrates that activity measured using PET scans of glucose metabolism in two main areas was far lower in the brains of people who are dependent on ecstasy compared to people who never use the drug. This means that ecstasy can significantly impact your brain’s function, making it difficult to complete everyday tasks.   

5. Heroin

Your brain converts heroin into morphine, which can bind to molecules and cells in your body and brain called opioid receptors. Once this occurs, the way you perceive pain and rewards will be impacted. Since we all have opioid receptors in our brain stem, which is our body’s primary control center, overdosing on this drug can slow or even stop your breathing. Unfortunately, the end result is often brain damage, coma, or death.   

6. Caffeine

Many people do not know that caffeine is a drug, so they consume it multiple times a day. However, it is the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world, affecting the same parts of your brain that cocaine does. Furthermore, it serves as a stimulant to your central nervous system, giving you a temporary mood boost. While we all need something to motivate us to get out of bed in the morning, this drug comes with consequences; it can pump your adrenaline levels, making you more irritable and anxious.    Caffeine can also keep you alert by mimicking adenosine, making it more difficult to fall asleep at night.    Feel-good drugs, as tempting as they may seem on the surface, pose a serious risk of drug addiction.   

Information on Drug Addiction

Drug addiction occurs when a person cannot stop thinking about illicit substances, no matter how hard they try. Sadly, the urge becomes too strong to control, even if you know the drug is harming your physical and mental health, ability to complete basic tasks, and relationships. Oftentimes, those who suffer from addiction prioritize their drug usage over eating and sleeping. People who become addicted are capable of doing anything—lying, stealing, or hurting their loved ones—to continue using the drug.    The end result is usually fractured relationships with family, friends, and spouses, and sometimes, jail time. Once people see the negative impacts of drug addiction, many of them want to turn their lives around; however, this cannot be done overnight.   

Is It Easy to Stop Using Drugs on Your Own?

In the beginning, taking drugs starts off as a choice. However, as you continue taking them and your dependency increases, applying self-control becomes a chore. Fortunately, you can seek professional treatment that can change your life and make you no longer crave illicit drugs. Addiction recovery is multi-faceted; not only will you stop using drugs as a coping mechanism, but you will also develop new ways of thinking, feeling, and managing problems.   

Ardu Recovery Center Welcomes You with Open Arms

The initial appeal of feel-good drugs wears off once addiction begins impacting your life. If you or a loved one need professional assistance to achieve sobriety, Ardu Recovery Center can help. We set out to help our patients achieve sobriety and live their healthiest, happiest, and most fulfilling lives.  We offer a safe and caring detox program as well as a full-service rehab facility with many amenities and treatment modalities.   We are located in the beautiful Provo, Utah. Please reach out to us today with any questions you may have. 
Brandon Okey

Brandon Okey is the co-founder of Ardu Recovery Center and is dedicated to empowering people on their journey to sobriety.