The sustained and repeated use or abuse of substances as a result of an addiction can significantly reshape and transform the way the brain functions and some of these changes will persist long after the substance has left the body.
The human brain consists of multiple parts that communicate with each other through a network of neurons, neurotransmitters, receptors, and transporters. Different substances may target different sections of the brain and the precise nature of the effects will differ, but, essentially, all drugs operate by interfering with the brain’s communication channels.
It is not uncommon for substances to target critically important sections of the brain responsible for basic life functions like the brain stem. Indeed, along with the cerebral cortex and the limbic system, the brain stem is known to be one of the sections of the brain that can be targeted by harmful or illicit substances.
Many addictive substances operate by flooding the brain’s reward center with dopamine. The sense of euphoria this effect produces reinforces the behavior which, in turn, induces the kind of repeated use that so often leads to addiction. As the brain tries to adjust to these surges over time, the amount of naturally occurring dopamine production can be reduced and certain transmitters in the brain may shut down, making it increasingly difficult to experience any sense of pleasure at all.
The brain-altering effects of substance addiction underscore the importance of being treated by licensed counselors and experienced professionals.
The Asana Recovery Center offers a comprehensive treatment program that can help those at any stage of addiction. Call us at (949) 438-4504 to learn more about our alcohol and drug treatment program today.