SAMPLE COURSE MATERIAL
The process of addiction creates profound changes in the brain. The process is complex, and specific changes to the way the brain works can vary depending on the substance used. Brain reward circuits are often mentioned when discussing the effects of addictive substances and substance misuse. Addictive substances activate these circuits, resulting in pleasurable effects; because of this positive reinforcement, a person may be motivated to use such substances again. However, the process of addiction is functionally and structurally multifaceted, and motivation for continuing to use an addictive substance involves more than positive reinforcement.
One way of looking at how brain structures and systems are affected as addiction develops is to divide addiction into three stages:
- Withdrawal/negative affect
- Preoccupation/anticipation (craving)
Each stage changes the brain in specific ways, and these changes interact with one another as addiction develops. The following descriptions note the primary brain area or areas involved in each stage, but the descriptions are not exhaustive.
SAMPLE POST TEST
1. Psychoactive substances can produce long-lasting alterations in the neural circuits responsible for normal learning and memory processes.
2. Awareness of the potential cognitive effects of chronic substance use is important because:
- Cognitive effects may make it more difficult for clients to engage in and benefit from health care services.
- Effects on executive functions may make clients in recovery from substance use disorders particularly vulnerable to relapse
- Problems with cognitive functioning affect the quality of life of clients and may create additional social problems.
- All of the above
3. Executive functions are the cognitive processes that regulate, control, and manage all the following except:
- Working memory
This home study course provides information for clinicians who may encounter clients with cognitive deficits related to chronic substance use disorder. The course highlights ways in which chronic substance use may affect the brain, the variables that influence the effects of chronic substance use, the clinical implications of neurological effects of chronic substance use, and how practitioners can help.
- Discuss the ways in which chronic substance use may affect the brain
- Explain the physical damage directly or indirectly caused by substance abuse.
- Discuss the variables that influence the effects of chronic substance use.
- Explain the clinical implications of neurological effects of chronic substance use.