When driving to a destination, responsible drivers are always aware of their surroundings and evaluating the conditions of the road. Impaired drivers, whether under the influence of drugs or alcohol, on the other hand, are often unaware of what’s happening around them and have a higher chance of putting others at significant risk for harm by causing a car accident. In order to protect yourself from intoxicated drivers, it’s crucial to understand how substances affect the brain and be able to recognize the telltale signs of impairment.
How Drugs and Alcohol Affect the Brain
While the signs of impairment are often similar if a driver is on drugs or has consumed an excessive amount of alcohol, the ways in which these substances affect the brain differs. The type of drug or the amount of alcohol can worsen impairment symptoms. Understanding how the brain is affected may discourage drivers from operating their vehicles under the influence.
Drugs interfere with the way neurons process, send, and receive signals. While some drugs like heroin or marijuana activate neurons because of their chemical structures and send abnormal messages to the brain, others like cocaine or amphetamine, can interfere with the communication between neurons. In general, the central nervous system and autonomic functions like respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature are impacted.