How Do Drugs Hijack the Brain?
In the past, people were skeptical about the idea that drugs alter your brain and thought of addiction as an unhealthy choice some people make. Many people’s family members still hold this unfortunate view. Scientists and sufferers have argued the opposite for years, and recent advances in our understanding of how the brain works have proven that substance use disorders are not conscious decisions at all.
Addiction and Your Reward Centers
Our reward centers are programmed in a certain way. For instance, we need to eat food to live, so a neurotransmitter is released when we eat to make us feel good and encourage us to repeat the behavior. The same is true of sex — procreation continues our species, so our brains provide an incentive to enjoy and repeat sexual activity. Put simply, when you do something good, the reward system entices you to repeat the action. This is a fundamental tenet of human existence.
It’s this system that alcohol and other drugs hijack — and there’s no way of reversing it. From initial drug use, the brain of someone with the genetic and environmental risk factors necessary to develop substance use disorders is changed forever. This is why abstinence is so essential for people who’ve struggled with addiction. Detoxing or getting clean doesn’t invalidate the inherent predisposition you have toward drug misuse.
Addiction is a chronic disease, and therapy and professional care help prevent relapse in the future.
Don’t go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you’re facing. Get in touch with one today.
If you have coverage of any kind from a major insurance provider, your treatment is likely covered. We promise to keep your information confidential.
The Connection Between Drug Addiction and Mental Illness
Self-medicating to escape difficult emotions associated with mental illness is common. However, drug use tends to exacerbate mental health conditions. This is partly due to the depletion of vital feel-good neurotransmitters caused by alcohol and drug use and partly because covering up a feeling doesn’t make it go away. Avoiding our emotions or not facing up to them usually makes matters worse.
Starting treatment for a substance use disorder can be a revelation for some people because it kick-starts the therapy process and introduces them to support groups. By continuing to seek professional help after rehab, you can learn how to manage depression, anxiety, stress, and personality disorders and live a full, happy life.