Motivation and the Brain: April 12th, 2010

Refraining from using drugs, smoking, and alcohol, is hard for any individual. Motivation is what it takes to get most tasks and objectives done. Whether that is refraining the use of illicit drugs, or continuing to complete treatment to stay off the illicit drugs. From any angle, one’s motivation is needed to complete such necessary tasks to keep the body healthy and from any harm. This also includes the brain. When it comes to refraining from drug use, there are several factors that may contribute to the individual’s motivation. For example, extrinsic and intrinsic factors. This includes but is not limited to hereditary and the environment. Brain structures and certain functions are also associated with one’s motivation to abstain from drug use.

Motivation first requires a cause that could have been prevented based upon the motivational factors. Relapse for example is the biggest fear for any recovering addict. It is hard enough for the addicts to withstand treatment and maintain themselves let alone think about facing a relapse and having to go back through the entire process all over again. Motivation in most users and former users is extremely complex. The motivation all depends on how intense the addict is dependent on the drug and how much it is affecting their life. Most addicts that undergo treatment relapse with no intention of going back. (DiClemente, 1999).

Extrinsic factors are those of which do not come from the individual, rather from any other outside factors such as money. (DiClemente, 1999). The task may not provide anything however the result of doing the task to see some type of satisfaction or recognition. An extrinsic drug user trying to refrain from drugs is basing his motivations based on any outside factors that are not essential or inherent. Refraining from drug use might take the addict’s patience and anxiety to another level. Extrinsic factors for a drug user would be family and friends hoping that the user will enroll himself or herself into rehabilitation.  Another extrinsic factor could be money. The user might be making quite in inflation in revenue with selling drugs so he or she would be money motivated, another extrinsic factor.  Outside environmental factors have much in common as well.

Not only does a user refraining from drugs have extrinsic motivational factors, but also intrinsic motivational factors. Intrinsic factors are based upon goal oriented behavior. Much different than extrinsic where extrinsic is focused mainly on the satisfaction or gratuity in the end result and that intrinsic is focused on the process related to the result itself. Having fun with it. Like a jigsaw puzzle. Most do not sit for hours to frame the jigsaw puzzle, but the process building up to that final piece is what matters most. Very much like intrinsic motivation in a drug user. The process of getting the drugs to finally soothe the fix is almost as rewarding as the actual high. The amount of effort put into any given task and the skill developed is mainly what matters to the intrinsic motivated individual.

According to theorist Combs, the factors that promote intrinsic motivation in refrained drug users are: curiosity, control, challenge, cooperation, fantasy, recognition, and competition. (Herzberg, 2010). Any addict that is trying to refrain their drug use has the challenge, control, and competition within themselves to be clean and sober.  Each recovering addict that is trying to refrain his or her drug use also has to consider the brain structures to be clean and what the effects from his or her drug use has on their brain.

The brain stem controls all the necessary functions one needs to survive. The limbic system links several different parts to control all the different emotional responses one might have. If one has been a heavy drug user, it may or may not have affected these structures allowing a delayed emotional response in a euphoric state while being on the specific drugs. The cerebral cortex is also another brain structure that can be affected by a frequent drug user. The cerebral cortex processes all the senses allowing humans to feel, smell, touch, etcetera.  Drugs are powerful chemicals that affect the brain. Drugs have the ability to obstruct with nerves and their neurotransmitters.

Drugs can affect the brain permanently depending on how heavy the user and for how long. According to NIDA (n.d.), “Marijuana has the ability to fool the receptors and may set in motion the nerve cells sending abnormal messages to the brain. Certain drugs may cause too much dopamine to be released which in turn affects the limbic system.” (Brain and Addiction, para. 1-3, 5-9). No matter which way one looks at the situation, drug users have taught their brains to be used to this sensation, so when one stops and tries to go through treatment, the brain reacts causing one to go through emotional and physical withdrawals.

Brain structures and functions associated with the motivation engaging refraining from using drugs has several abilities to have permanent brain damage. Motivation in drug users that are trying to stop their much needed addiction involves both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors to include hereditary, environmental, challenge, control, and competition. Refraining from using drugs, smoking, and alcohol, is hard for any individual. Motivation is what it takes to get most tasks and objectives done. Whether that is refraining the use of illicit drugs, or continuing to complete treatment to stay off the illicit drugs. From any angle, one’s motivation is needed to complete such necessary tasks to keep the body healthy and from any harm.

 

References

DiClemente, C. C. (1999, May). Motivation for Change: Implications for Substance Abuse           Treatment. American Psychological Society, 10(3), 1.

Herzberg, F. (2010). Human Relations Contributors. ACCEL Team Development. Retrieved        from http://www.accel-team.com/human_relations/hrels_05_herzberg.html

NIDA. (n.d.). NIDA for Teens: Facts on Drugs. Retrieved from      http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.php

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