Altered decision making that accompanies drug use/abuse

Drug use and abuse can significantly alter decision making in several ways. Regular drug use can affect the brains reward system and can cause individuals to prioritize drug seeking behaviors over other important activities. Such as work, school, or relationships. This prioritization can lead to impaired judgment, resulting in risky or dangerous decisions. Drug use can impair cognitive functioning, including memory, attention, and decision making abilities.

This impairment can lead to impulsive decisions that are not well thought out or considerate of long term consequences. Furthermore, drug use can increase the likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, or engaging in unprotected sex. Which can have severe consequences for both the individual and those around them.

Overall, drug use and abuse can significantly impact an individuals decision making abilities and lead to dangerous and harmful behaviors. Many individuals with problems of substance addiction become unable to base their drug-use decisions on the long-term outcome of their choices. We present here a neural framework that explains this ‘myopia’ for future consequences.

We suggest that addiction may be the product of an imbalance between two separate, but interacting, neural systems that subserve decision-making: A reactive system for signaling pain or pleasure of immediate prospects with the amygdala as a key structure, and a reflective system for signaling pain or pleasure of future prospects involving highly the prefrontal cortex.

Through development, socialization, and individuals’ learning of social rules, the reflective system gains control over the reactive system via several cognitive (e.g., response inhibition, shifting) and neural mechanisms (fronto-parietal network). However, this control is not absolute; hyperactivity within the reactive system can override the reflective system and the neurotoxicity of drugs could lead to the disruption in self-regulation.

We propose that drugs can trigger bottom-up, involuntary signals originating from the amygdala that modulate, bias, or even hijack the goal-driven cognitive resources that are needed for the normal operation of the reflective system and for exercising the willpower to resist drugs. We finally develop the idea that different patterns of imbalance between reactive and reflective systems could lead to distinct patterns of clinical impulsivity involved in the vulnerability, the development, and the relapse to drugs.


Laura Zukerman

Owner and Founder At The Goddess Bibles

A Memoir By Laura Zukerman

Becoming Your Inner Goddess/God

Goddess/God on Fire ❤

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