This is Your Brain On Drugs. Any Questions?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

oa6lkniDo you remember the televised public service announcement that showed a close-up of an egg?  The actor said, “This is your brain.” He called a frying pan “drugs.” Then as the egg broke into the pan, it bubbled and its edges curled. The actor said, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

Seeing this for the first time as a young adult who had already stopped experimenting with drugs, it seemed to send a quality message. For me, the idea of destroying brain cells was a deterrent. 

My first car had been owned by a pot-head who was slowly losing his ability to drive. The car had been adjusted for hand controls as his legs were the first to become useless. Eventually the car had to be sold, and was reverted back to original condition. 

That sealed it for me. No drugs. Ever. 

There is a great deal of rationalizing in homes, cars, empty warehouses, and in the arguments of those wishing to legalize drug use for recreational purposes.  “Marijuana is not addictive” is one myth floating about. Tell that to the kid who spent his life in a wheelchair. As with all forms of self-medication, pot can become a mental obsession.

Addiction is not only a chemically induced physical draw to the fix, it is also a mental game of repetitive cycles. “I can stop anytime I want” is followed by successful abstinence for a time, followed by an eventual return. It is not uncommon for someone to give up one addiction for another, either.

Rationalizations ran my life as overeating took over my thoughts and body. While triumphantly avoiding the loss of brain cells due to drugs, my mental obsession with food nearly took me out. Although recovery has resulted in significant weight loss, there are continued health consequences to pay.

A PSA  for food addiction could probably look like a close-up of an egg, a red-hot frying pan symbolizing deteriorating health, and a hand snatching the sizzling egg and shoving it into a mouth. Food addiction is that insane.  

A world tends to say food addiction is not real. Well, it is, folks. I and many other food addicts in recovery whom I have met, will tell you without flinching that food has had a chemically induced effect on our brains. However, without a doubt, the most self-defeating aspect of addiction is the mental obsession. 

Loss of brain cells or not, addiction of all types interferes with relationships (how can we pay attention to other people’s needs when our focus is on our obsession?), common sense (we will rationalize anything to have our fix), and our social lives (we will hang out with people who do not challenge our addiction).

Our intellect and critical thinking skills are damaged (we are only interested in information that supports our addiction). Faith wavers (we do not want to surrender to God and lose control over our own decisions). Physical health (we live in denial), and our sense of worth (we turn to the fix to feel better – which never works for long) also pay a high price for our choices. 

There is hope! Quality reasoning can return if we will accept drug use and self-medicating as the dangers and destroyers they are. Help is available. Drug, alcohol, eating disorders, and other mental health issues are addressed by caring people in treatment centers, addiction counselors’ offices, and in anonymous 12-step groups all over the world. 

God helps. I do not just mean a shadowy imagination of a potentially supreme being. I am talking about God as described in the Bible. Through his Son Jesus, we have been given the source of life and love. Our needs are met by Him despite continued struggles.

mjbzbxmFor me, knowing God in my recovery is the number one motivator for staying clean. When I fail, He is the reason I come back. As my mind screams, “life is too hard, you need your fix,” I can pray for the Highest Power to give me strength. 

This is my brain on prayer – calmer, comforted, complete – exactly what drugs and food promise and endlessly fail to deliver.

Today’s Helpful Word

John 15: 9  
“I have loved you the same way the Father has loved me. So live in my love.  (Jesus)



NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

– frying eggs pic by Teslacoils on

– hand and egg pic by debsch on


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