Exogenous Drugs and Brain Damage

  • Woody Caan


The earliest known agricultural society cultivated Vicia (the ‘tares’ of the Bible), presumably in awareness of its psychoactive potential and in spite of the excitotoxic risks of fits or neurolathyrism. Throughout recorded history, harmful effects of ethanol on memory, orientation, co-ordination and reasoning have been apparent, long before a concept of dependence emerged. At present, in the USA, ‘alcohol-related neurological disorders’ constitute a particularly large subset of medical problems with alcohol, including a puzzling ‘great variety of these disorders, which may involve virtually any level of the nervous system’.1 A similarly great variety of damage is seen after use of other psychoactive drugs. The possibility arises that a drug like alcohol could contribute to neuropathology in five ways:
  1. 1.

    direct damage to neurones from any single dose;

  2. 2.

    non-specific damage associated with use (e.g. head injuries or malnutrition);

  3. 3.

    altered metabolism following short binges of heavy use;

  4. 4.

    cumulative irreversible changes associated with chronic use;

  5. 5.

    impaired foetal development after maternal use.



Chronic Alcohol Brain Damage Addictive Behaviour Inverse Agonist KYNURENIC Acid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adrian Bonner and James Waterhouse 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Woody Caan

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