How Drugs Affect Behaviour? A Biological and Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.


how drugs affect behaviour, biological psychology, abnormal psychology, clinical psychology

In this episode of The Psychology World Podcast, we’re looking at the biological and abnormal psychology topic of How Drugs Affect Behaviour? This is a great episode!

This psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by: Biological Psychology Third Edition.


Extract from Biological Psychology Third Edition by Connor Whiteley. COPYRIGHT 2021

This has to be one of my favourite biological psychology topics because looking at the effects of drugs on behaviour means we can apply all this knowledge to our everyday life.

Since drugs are a massive problem in the world.


Therefore, drugs can either facilitate (agonists) or inhibit (Antagonist) synaptic transition.


The Case of Epilepsy:

This condition is a great way to look at the effects of drugs because epilepsy, which causes seizures, are caused by abnormal electrical signals in the brain.


Thankfully, they can be treated with Anti-epileptic drugs. (AEDs) These reduce the likelihood of a seizure by alternating or reducing the excessive electrical activity in neurons. As well as different AED works in different ways and have different effects on the brain.


In more detail, these drugs work by attaching themselves to the surface of the neuron.


Afterwards, they affect the neurotransmitter responsible for sending the abnormal messages to the brain.


For example, some AEDs affect the sodium channels where they bind themselves to sodium channels on neurons. Like: phenytoin and Lamotrigine.


Whereas other AEDs block calcium channels. Like: topiramate and Lamotrigine.


Dopamine and Mental Health:

Another way how neurotransmitters can impact behaviour is by causing mental conditions, and I talk about this topic a lot more in Abnormal Psychology 3rd Edition.


But the levels of dopamine in the body can have a number of effects on our behaviour. For example, too little dopamine can cause:

· Tremor and ability

· Feeling lethargy and misery as seen in depression.

· Cravings and withdrawal

· Lack of attention and concentration as seen in ADHD


This can be seen in Methylphenidate (Ritalin) as it blocks the reuptake of dopamine but in a more gradual and more controlled way. This is often prescribed for people with ADHD.

Meaning this boosts the concentration of dopamine in the body. Allowing the dopamine levels in the body to return to ‘normal’ levels.


Also, addictive substances increases dopamine activity in certain areas of the brain as seen in “the reward pathway” as mentioned in Aron, Fisher and Brown (2005)


Whereas, too much dopamine in the body can cause:

· Hallucinations and paranoia like in Schizophrenia.

· Uncontrolled speech and movement like in Tourette’s.

· Agitation and repetitive action as seen in OCD.

· Over excitement and euphoric like when people are experiencing mania.


Additionally, almost all abused drugs stimulate dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens as well as stained busts of dopamine inhibit cells that release the neurotransmitter GADA.


This is thought to be one of the causes of Schizophrenia. Please see Abnormal Psychology 3rd Edition for more information.


Although, something I love about psychology is sometimes pieces of facts contradict each other. Sometimes a lot, sometimes only slightly.


For example, activity in the nucleus accumbens probably contributes more to the ‘wanting’ of a drug than people actually liking it. Yet it has a role in both.


This is supported by the fact, addition is based heavily on someone wanting a drug as the amount of pleasure decreases during addiction.


Biological Psychology of Alcohol:

Alcohol and its effects are well known and people love it.


Personally, I don't drink because of its taste let alone its side effects.


However, alcoholism is a problem that's going to be the focus of this section.


Therefore, alcohol is a drug that has long historical use and is used widely throughout the world. As well as alcoholism or alcohol dependency is the continued use of alcohol despite medical or social harm even after a person has decided to quit or decrease drinking.


For example, if a person has decided to give up alcohol but they can't. Then chances are they have an alcohol difficulty.


And if you're read my Abnormal Psychology or Clinical Psychology book then you know I prefer the term condition or difficulty over the term problem. Since that word can be as damaging as the condition itself.


Furthermore, alcohol has a number of physiological effects:

· Inhibition of sodium across the member

· Expansion of the surface of the membranes

· Decrease serotonin activity

This is one reason why alcohol is a depressant.

· Enhanced response by GAGDA receptor

· Blockage of Glutamate receptors

· Increased dopamine activity


To treat addiction, Antabuse, this blocks the conversion of acetaldehyde to acetic acid, and methadone are used but many people do not respond to other treatment, so medication has been used to reduce cravings instead.


Surprisingly enough, alcoholism isn’t just one type. In fact, there are two different types of alcoholism and compared to type 1, type 2 alcoholism starts faster, sooner, usually more severe, and it affects more men than women.


Causes of Alcoholism:

There are several causes of alcoholism, including cognitive and social factors, but in terms of biological causes. There are genetic influences on alcoholism because genes have an impact on impulsiveness, responses to stress and overall calmness.


Yet some risk factors for alcoholism include:

· Family history

· Feeling low intoxication after moderate drinking

· Immense stress relief after drinking


I really hoped you enjoyed this biological and abnormal psychology episode. If you want to learn more, please check out the links below:


FREE AND EXCLUSIVE 8 PSYCHOLOGY BOOK BOXSET


Biological Psychology Third Edition


Abnormal Psychology: The Causes and Treatments of Depression, Anxiety and More Third Edition.


Both books are available on all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback, large print and hardback copies from Amazon or your local bookstore.

You can direct the eBook directly from me here.


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