Is Addiction A Brain Disease
Chemicals Have The Capacity To Change The Brain’s Chemistry
In the past decade, there has been much learned about addiction and how certain drugs have the capacity to change the brain’s chemistry. There are three aspects of addiction that classify it as a disease.
- Drugs have the capacity to disrupt signals between brain cells. The cells of the brain talk to each other by sending and receiving chemicals. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Such neurotransmitters affect every aspect of how a person thinks, feels, and processes information. Drugs, chemicals themselves, can cause the brain to stop making neurotransmitters. Chemical neurotransmitters can also replace the brain’s natural neurotransmitters and bind to the brain’s cells. Some drugs like cocaine and meth, cause the brain to produce unusually large amounts of neurotransmitters.
- Drugs can distort the brain’s reward system. There is a portion of the brain, called the limbic system, which regulates our sense of pleasure. This area of the brain produces chemicals (reward system) that inspires us to have sex, to eat, and to do other things needed for human survival. Some drugs will target this area of the brain causing it to release large amounts of dopamine and neurotransmitters (all chemicals) that can give a person an immense high. When the brain senses an overabundance of a chemical that it naturally produces, it will stop producing that chemical. Thus, an addict has to ingest larger amounts of their drug overtime to reach the same high. The difficulty of giving up cocaine is on par with trying to give up eating and food for some addicts.
- Drugs can undermine a person’s ability to make rational decisions. Certain drugs can compromise a person’s ability to make rational decision while intensifying their cravings. For the addict, every moment of every day is dominated by the urge and compulsion to use their drug. The consequences at this stage of addiction no longer matter. The only thing on the mind of the attic is their next fix. Changing their behavior by a mere act of willpower is impossible. Professional help is needed. First to help the addicted person detox, and then advance through rehab and prepare for aftercare and follow up.
Because chemicals have the capacity to change the brain’s chemistry, addiction treatment and behavioral therapies are designed to reverse the effects. Detox, while an effective start toward sobriety, is not the end of the program. Patients must come to understand their disease and to learn how inaccurate thinking has affected their behavior. Patients also learn to identify and avoid the triggers that can lead to relapse.
Serious addictions are best treated in a professional, clinical setting with qualified and licensed clinicians. Quitting cold turkey is never recommended for this very reason. Withdrawal symptoms can be deadly if not controlled by experts. Severe addictions are best addressed through an inpatient treatment program. Medications can be administered to assist the patient through detox, and therapies can provide additional relief through the patient’s rehab program.
If the symptoms and addiction is less severe, the patient’s clinic may recommend outpatient treatment, which is just as effective but allows the individual to return home after each session. This method gives the patient more freedom to interact with family and friends. Patients are trusted because they have their addiction more under control. Both methods deliver excellent results.
At Sprout Health California Detox, we have the skills to diagnose mental, physiological, and co-occurring conditions so that patients can look forward to getting their life completely back on track. The good news is that the brain can right itself to normal with the right kind of clinical support. People do have the capacity to change their own neuropathways through correct thinking.
If you are addicted, or you know someone who is, it is time to get help. At Sprout Health California Detox, we are dedicated to making sure all of our patients realize their dreams of living a life free of alcohol or drugs. It starts with a phone call to learn more about our assessment process. Once in your program detox will begin to rid your body of its harmful chemicals. You will be well on your way to achieving sobriety. Once you leave rehab, you will be equipped with the tools to cope with things that may have caused you to starting using drugs or drinking in the first place.