UNDERSTANDING HOW ADDICTION CAN TRANSFORM YOUR BRAIN
- January 2, 2019
Besides your heart, your brain is one of the most (if not the most) important organs in your entire body. As a whole, this powerful supercomputer between your eyes serves as the hub of activity. If your brain is functioning properly and is working to its full potential (no strings attached), then you are a happy and healthy person. So, imagine how complicated this process can get when addictive substances enter the picture. According to research throughout the years, addiction not only influences the brain but (in a matter of speaking) also completely transforms it. After a while, this mental illness changes from an irritating problem into a full-blown health scare. Let’s take a closer look so we can understand how addiction can transform your brain.
Bound to the Will of Addiction
Overall, you may not be surprised to hear that the word “addiction” comes from a Latin term that translates to “enslaved by” or “bound to.” If you have suffered from drug addiction or alcoholism or have known someone who has, you understand how a man or woman is instinctively drawn to this substance, as if their cravings are programmed into their behavior. Although people can overcome this illness, the process is long and slow.
Shifting from “Like” to “Want”
As you may have guessed, nobody can predict if they can fall victim to addiction (not until it’s too late, that is). After consumption, addictive drugs will program a shortcut (so to speak) with the reward center of the brain by stimulating excessive amounts of dopamine, which ultimately floods nucleus accumbens. As a result, the hippocampus creates memories of this deep-seated desire, while the amygdala (the emotional seat of the brain) programs an emotional response to this sensation.
Interestingly, pleasure is not enough to stimulate addictive behavior (as early scientific studies explained). However, as revealed, dopamine not only stimulates pleasure but also serves as a powerful agent for memory-creation. In other words, drugs manipulate and change our memories.
Drug Tolerance and Compulsiveness
Over time, the brain adapts to the addictive drugs, which no longer stimulate this sensation of pleasure. As a result of the overflow of dopamine, our brains naturally become tolerant of this flood of new activity, sometimes through the removal of dopamine receptors. Ultimately, people have to start taking more of the drug to feel this pleasure (also called a “high”), which can result in compulsive behavior.
Seeking Treatment for Drug Addiction or Alcoholism
Always remember that alcohol and drugs do not have control over your life. You do. Are you suffering from a substance use disorder or a severe form of addiction? Do you have a friend or family member suffering from one or more of these debilitating illnesses? If you do, get in touch with Asana Recovery today. Our counselors and healthcare experts are ready to walk you through every step of the detox and withdrawal process and rehabilitation and guide you towards living a happier, healthier, and freer lifestyle. While the road to recovery might not be an easy road to travel, we promise to help you every step of the way. Take the first step to stay fit, healthy, and safe.
The time for you to take back control of your life is now. If you are interested in one of our residential treatment or supervised detoxification/withdrawal programs, we are ready and waiting to speak with you at your disclosure. Call Asana now at (949) 438-4504 to learn how to overcome your alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or addiction troubles today.