Drugs and the Brain

Person reviewing brain scans on her computer
High-resolution, non-invasive imaging techniques produce detailed diagrams of neural tracts, enabling new analyses of how brain regions are connected.

The human brain is the most complex organ in the body—you need it to drive a car, to enjoy a meal, to breathe, to create an artistic masterpiece, and to enjoy everyday activities. In brief, the brain regulates your body’s basic functions; enables you to interpret and respond to everything you experience; and shapes your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Drugs, however, can alter important brain areas that are necessary for life-sustaining functions and can drive the compulsive drug use that marks addiction. As a result, NIDA supports a large body of neuroscience research that can provide clues about how better to manage and prevent substance use disorders.

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