The hijacking takes place as millions of neurons, with tens of thousands of synoptic connections, fire simultaneously, releasing high volumes of dopamine and other neurotransmitters.
The first area that drugs affect is the Ventral tegmental area (VTA). This is a small, primitive area located in the bottom of the mid-brain (the reward center).
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Once a month I set aside a day to read the latest research about
addiction in the leading medical journals. For the last ten years I’ve
watched this knowledge expand. What was once a trickle, then a stream,
is now a flood, and the research is pouring out so fast that it is
difficult to keep up.