What Does Addiction Do to the Brain?

What Does Addiction Do to the Brain?

It is well-known that addiction and substance abuse is bad for your body. Health can quickly deteriorate, behaviors change and your brain goes through a lot of abuse and chemical changes. But, what exactly are these damages and what does addiction do to the brain?

When learning the answer to “what does addiction do to the brain?”, it is first and foremost important to understand the reward circuit. This is the part of your brain that lets you know that what you are doing is pleasurable and enjoyable, and something that should be repeated to keep feeling this euphoria.

Many things can activate this part of the brain, such as eating delicious food, winning a sports game or seeing a cute puppy. However, drugs hijack this part of the brain to the point that very little is enjoyable other than substances. So, when this reward circuit becomes overactive due to drugs, what exactly happens?

Parts of the Brain Affected by Addiction

The Brain Stem

According to Medicinenet, the brain stem controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body, and it also controls basic body functions such as breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, consciousness, and whether one is awake or sleepy. The brain stem consists of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata and is connected to the spinal cord.

Not all drugs work the same, but many drugs can cause the brain stem to over or underperform. For instance, some drugs can cause the brain stem to slow down, causing slowed or slurred speech, respiratory depression and loss of consciousness. Some drugs may cause the brain stem to tell the body to increase its heart rate, remain awake and breathe faster. Repeated abuse of this part of the brain can cause long-term damages.

The Limbic System

This part of the brain is responsible for creating your feelings and motivation, according to University of Delaware. Your feelings supply the contexts for your sensory and motor activities and can alter how one perceives the world and behaves in it. This portion of the brain physically connects the survival-oriented brain stem with the cognitively oriented cortex.

Drugs can totally disrupt normal moods and behaviors by acting on the limbic system. For instance, the limbic system is what causes someone to feel temporary relief or relaxation while using drugs. It is also the part of the brain that will cause you to lose motivation and lose interest in hobbies that were once enjoyable or people that were once loved. Long term abuse of this part of the brain can cause permanent behavioral and mood changes.

The Cerebral Cortex

The cerebral cortex is the largest part of the brain. The front of the cerebral cortex is what allows us to have decision-making skills, to think things through to anticipate consequences in the future, to plan things out and to solve problems. Other parts of the cerebral cortex are what process information from our senses and what controls specific functions.

When drugs take hold of this part of the brain, it can cause severe behavioral and mood changes. Suddenly, inhibitions are lowered and decision-making is much harder. In addition, parts of the body may become numb or other senses are affected during a high.

Why Detox is Important

When someone is ready to get sober and live a life free of drugs or alcohol, it can take a lot of re-wiring of the brain. All of these parts of the brain have been affected and changed for so long, that it becomes difficult to go back to the way it was once before. The brain is now dependent on the substance to control it, and untangling that can cause some debilitating withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures or trembles
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Intense cravings

Taking advantage of medical detox can help alleviate these symptoms, allowing for a much easier and smoother transition from drug addiction back to a clean life.while rewiring the brain and experiencing these withdrawal symptoms can be painful, medical detox helps make it more comfortable and easier on the body.

About Cliffside Malibu

Drugs and alcohol can cause serious damages to the brain. When asking “what does addiction do to the brain?” remember that it can cause problems throughout the whole thing, and the damages can often be long-lasting or even life-threatening. Luckily, addiction is a treatable disease. You can minimize the damage that addiction does to the brain by quitting and receiving treatment for your addiction.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for each and every client. Treatment plans are created based on a client’s current Stage of Change l: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, or Maintenance. This model helps ensure that all patients receive the best treatment path possible based on their willingness to act on healthy behavior. Progressing our clients through this model to completion successfully is our goal each and every single day.

Cliffside Malibu’s policy is to ensure that all people who choose treatment with us receive the best care possible. We strive to provide a continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program includes not only evidence-based behavioral therapy but family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are designed and structured to be a supportive environment in order to maintain sobriety.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, to meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com

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About Jaclyn Uloth