SUBSTANCE ABUSE LEADS TO CHANGES IN THE BRAIN
- May 16, 2018
Did you know that drug use can alter your brain and biological systems? The very structure and chemistry of your brain and body can be changed with long-term substance abuse, sometimes in permanent and untreatable ways.
Some People are More Vulnerable to Substance Abuse than Others
It’s been shown that some people are more predisposed to addiction than others. There is actually an “alcoholism gene” that makes you more likely to become an alcoholic.
That doesn’t mean that if you have this gene, you are destined to become an alcoholic. Rather, it just means that if you drink, you are more likely to become addicted as genetics account for about 50% of someone’s likelihood. This explains why some people are social drinkers and never have a problem, whereas others have a single drink and immediately face addiction issues.
Brain Changes Caused by Substance Abuse
The actual structure of our brains changes as we use drugs and alcohol. Over time, drinking regularly shrinks the overall size of your brain. Autopsies of alcoholics have shown that they have lighter and smaller brains when compared to others of the same gender and age.
Using modern brain-imaging techniques, doctors have also seen these brain changes in living alcoholics. The results of such tests also demonstrate the way in which addiction can kill brain cells.
Methamphetamine, for example, damages parts of the brain that create dopamine, a “feel good” chemical that triggers feelings of euphoria. Under the right conditions, meth use even causes brain cells to self-destruct.
Brain chemistry is also tampered with when we use drugs. Chemicals called neurotransmitters are used to send signals to other parts of the brain and nervous system. Drugs alter the balance of these chemicals. This is a big reason why we struggle with addiction – our brains have become used to a certain balance that is not natural but difficult to come back from.
Asana Recovery will help end your struggle with addiction. There is hope, and it’s never too late. If you’re committed to making a change in your life and staying sober, let us know today.