Alcohol and other drug use related brain changes
The physical and physiological effects of alcohol and other drugs are well known. However the brain changes due to the effects of direct and indirect drug use and related lifestyle are less obvious, especially in the short term. Drug effects are a result of biochemical changes, which in prolonged use, can cause long term and often permanent structural and biochemical changes. The drug use related changes in the brain occur on a continuum of severity, duration and impact on day –to- day functioning. The changes manifest mainly as deficits in cognitive functioning, particularly the Executive Functions and become obvious at a stage where there is usually minimal probability of recovery. Drug use can also adversely impact on brain development in utero and during adolescence and early adulthood.
This session will focus on the direct and indirect neurobiological effects on brain functioning by alcohol and other drugs from the foetal to the adult stage, the manifestations of the brain changes on emotion, cognitive processes and behaviour. Strategies to reduce the damage done by drug use on the brain at critical stages of development and in the ‘mature’ brain as well as strategies to respond to the cognitive and behavioural manifestations will be presented, with special mention of the Aboriginal context.