Substance misuse: causes of dependence and withdrawal

scott-henery_200x200BHT’s substance misuse trainer Scott Henery talks about the main effects drugs have on the brain’s chemistry.

Scott will be running Advanced Alcohol & Substance Misuse training on 23 & 24 June, where you kind find out more about neuropharmacology, how all the key drugs work and how dependence and withdrawal are likely to occur.

We’ve seen how drugs of abuse alter the way people think, feel, and behave, but why is this?

Certain chemicals disrupt neurotransmission, which is the process of communication between brain cells. Studies suggest that a cumulative effect on neurotransmission leads to an organic brain disease which causes addiction and drug dependence. In the long-term, the brain has to adjust to compensate for drug-induced increases in neurotransmitter signalling intensities.

For example, drug tolerance often develops because sending cells reduce the amount of neurotransmitter they produce and release, or receiving cells withdraw receptors or dampen their responsiveness. Scientists have shown, for example, that cells withdraw opioid receptors into their interiors (where they cannot be stimulated) when exposed to some opioid drugs; when exposed to morphine, however, cells appear instead to make internal adjustments that produce the same effect—reduced responsiveness to opiate drugs and natural opioids.

Over time, this can recalibrate and reduce the brain’s responsiveness to opioid stimulation so eventually the brain needs the extra stimulation of the drug to function normally. In other words, without the drug withdrawal occurs.

BHT’s Working with Alcohol & Substance Misuse course is aimed at experienced workers who have a good knowledge of alcohol and substance misuse. It will review and consolidate technical knowledge, accurate terminology and concepts, and apply them to a practical context.

Scott is running BHT’s Working With Dual Diagnosis training course on 21 & 22 April.

To book your place, complete a booking form and return the form to it to us via email.