Addiction and the Brain: Changing Neural Pathways

Recently in New Orleans, doctors, future doctors, teachers and addiction treatment professionals, among many others, gathered on the occasion of brain awareness week to hear a top addiction specialist discuss addiction and the brain, specifically the way in which addiction changes the brain. WWLTV reported on the summit:

 “Dr. Bazan is director of the LSU Neuroscience Center, and he opened up his labs and knowledge to the public during Brain Awareness Week, hoping to show how scientists’ research uncovers brain function and dysfunction to conquer terrible brain diseases from Alzheimer’s and stroke to addiction.”

In recent years, science has made huge strides in showing how drug use can reset a person’s neural pathways to create a person with substance use disorderion that is more powerful than doctors have traditionally believed. For example, we now know that just one use of crystal meth can create a person with substance use disorderion. The work of doctors such as Dr. Bazan, as well as Dr. Pulirenti of the Scripps Research Institute, is helping to lift the stigma of addicts as simply weak-minded individuals, by presenting this science and therefore opening greater possibilities for treatment.

“Dr. Pulvirenti’s research helped identify the role of specific brain chemicals in the process of drug addiction and mood disorders. His work at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla focuses on the development of new medication for methamphetamine and cocaine dependence and for depression, as well as on the understanding of molecular changes involved in the pathophysiology of neurological diseases and in the biochemistry of emotional behavior….”

Dr. Pulvirenti goes on to stress that addiction is far more complicated than any one single issue due to the reality that “…as high as 80 percent of addicted people started with another untreated brain condition such as depression, anxiety or mania.” As we always say, this is why a highly personalized and integrated treatment plan is crucial to a successful recovery. Hopefully, these advances in the way that addiction is defined and categorized in the medical community will lead to easier access to personalized treatment for all those who need it.

Treatment for addiction doesn’t stop once you leave residential rehab. For some, transitioning to a sober living house can give them the comfort and support they need to successfully maintain their sobriety. Not everyone has a stable, supportive or safe environment to return to after they finish treatment. You can continue your recovery journey with the knowledge you have with the support of the house’s staff and your therapist. While you are in sober living, you can go back to work, engage in activities that promote a healthy lifestyle and work on finding a positive support system. Cliffside Malibu’s sober living house has residential advisors on staff. While you seek to find what you need to have a successful recovery, the advisors provide support and guidance. Cliffside Malibu’s sober living house believes your focus should be on your recovery.