How Does Addiction Affect Brain?
Table of contents
- Understanding Addiction and the Human Brain
- How Does the Brain Work?
- What Are the Main Areas of the Brain Associated with Addiction?
- Rewarding the Brain
- How Does Addiction Affect the Brain?
- Therapies for Brain Recovery After Addiction
- Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction at Concise Recovery
Understanding Addiction and the Human Brain
Addiction makes your brain depend on a specific substance by making the body constantly crave the drug of dependence. This results in the user often losing control over its use, and they will continue to use the drug despite any adverse effects that arise from it. Some substances may slow down or speed up your central nervous system (CNS), along with specific functions essential for supporting life, such as blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and body temperature.
The Biochemistry of Addiction
Neurotransmitters that Influence Addiction
- Dopamine: This affects your brain by regulating moods and enhancing pleasure, and it affects your ability to move around, rewarding and reinforcing behaviors, motivation, and attention. You will receive dopamine in drugs such as marijuana, heroin, and other opioids, stimulants, and ecstasy.
- Serotonin: This alters your brain’s normal functions by stabilizing mood and regulating emotions. Serotonin results from ecstasy and hallucinogens.
- GABA: GABA acts as a natural tranquilizer, mitigating your stress response and lowering anxiety levels as well as slowing down functions of the central nervous system. GABA typically can be found in drugs such as benzodiazepines.
- Norepinephrine: This gives the body an adrenaline feeling, making you more attentive and energetic. Norepinephrine is often called the stress hormone. It speeds up the central nervous system to the “fight-or-flight” response. This is found in drugs such as opioids and ecstasy.1
How Does the Brain Work?
Is Addiction a Brain Disease?
What Are the Main Areas of the Brain Associated with Addiction?
The Basal Ganglia
All addictive drugs, including alcohol, opioids, and cocaine, produce a euphoric sensation of the neurotransmitter dopamine in a region of the brain called the basal ganglia. This area controls rewards and your ability to learn based on that rewarding system. As you continuously abuse substances, these circuits adapt. Therefore, you feel the need to use more of the drug that has led to the substance abuse disorder.
The Extended Amygdala
The Prefrontal Cortex
Rewarding the Brain
Why Are Most Drugs More Addictive Than Natural Rewards?
How Does Addiction Develop?
Addiction can develop when you or a loved one find yourself craving the drug, losing control while under the influence, or continuing to use it even when you experience adverse consequences to your health.
Your brain records all pleasures at the same time, whether it is from a stimulant, a reward, or a sexual encounter. Dopamine release is so connected to pleasurable feelings and makes this region of your brain the brain’s pleasure center. The reports by NIDA showed that over twenty million people in the United States were diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder in the past year.
How Does Addiction Affect the Brain?
- Impaired decision making
- Impulsivity and compulsivity
- Drug-seeking behavior
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Relapse causes
- Stress regulation and withdrawal
- Heath Problems: An increased strain on your liver and lungs puts you at risk of significant lung disease. It also causes kidney problems, liver damage, liver failure, seizures, stroke, respiratory infections, and overdose that may lead to death.
- Mental Disorders: If you or someone you love is chronically using drugs or suffering from alcohol addiction, it can lead to changes in your brain, which can lead to mental health issues including paranoia, depression, anxiety, aggression, or hallucinations.
- Brain Damage: You can get brain injuries from the drugs directly, or substance use disorder-related consequences, such as fracturing your skull from an intoxicated fall or other types of trauma.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): This is a severe and persistent condition instigated by an external force, such as when a hard object hits you on the head, making your brain moves inside the skull and subsequently damages it.
- Acquired Brain Injury (ABI): This can occur when your brain experiences pressure, probably from a tumor or neurological illness such as stroke.
- Brain Hypoxia: This is due to overdoses other curable changes such as mild brain atrophy (brain shrinkage) and changes to white matter.5
Therapies for Brain Recovery After Addiction
Generally, the first and most crucial step toward sobriety is medication-assisted detox (MAD). This step consists of approved drugs being prescribed to help to wean the patient off alcohol or drugs slowly. The medical team will give you medication to alleviate discomfort caused by severe withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Addiction at Concise Recovery
At Concise Recovery, we don’t focus on only treating your drug and alcohol addictions. We give you a holistic treatment plan that involves your body, soul, and mind. Our interventions are tailored and made for your specific problem to provide you with a better chance of full recovery.
Addiction Treatment Programs
Detoxing is the first stage in the recovery process. At this stage, a professional medical team helps you by calming physical distress and reducing psychological concerns associated with withdrawal from substances or alcohol.
Afterwards, inpatient programs are live-in treatment options that come immediately after medical detoxification. You receive supervised treatment and structured care plans to overcome your addiction. Besides the medications, you also receive individual and group therapy. On the other hand, outpatient programs allow you to attend therapeutic and medical treatment on your own time if you cannot stay at the facility. You can be treated regularly at a substance abuse treatment center, community health clinic, hospital-affiliated clinic, or other facilities.
Get Help Today
Reach out to one of our always available coordinators at Concise Recovery today. Your life or the life of your loved one is highly dependent on how fast you seek intervention for them. Get the recovery you deserve. Contact us at Concise Recovery.