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Addiction And The Brain

Addictive Drugs And Alterations In The Brain

Addictive drugs normally alter the brain over a certain period. When dependence grows, alterations in the brain make exploiters place substance above everything else.


Regardless of the outcome, an addict's brain is altered to crave for the drug. Cravings for the substance can occur even after a lot of time has passed because any feelings or situations connected to the previous drug abuse can cause them, even though physical effects of a dependency are no longer present. Despite this, recovery is still possible. Recovering from the addiction requires continuous effort, something addicts at rehab centres should know. Dependence therapy is growing each day and has quickly bettered over the past years. Seek the assistance of others if you or your loved one is fighting the problem.


How Addictions Evolve

Every voluntary and involuntary choice we make is controlled by a complex organ in the body, the human brain. Our attitude, breathing, how we think and decide on issues, and other important skills are dictated by the brain. The limbic system sets chemicals free once a user takes an addictive drug in order to make the person feel pleasure. This boosts the desire to continue using the substance. Real changes have happened in the limbic system that cause the overwhelming, uncontrollable urge to use the substance, no matter what harm it may cause. The most important thing is now the desire to take the drug.


The brain also has a section that controls dependency. Limbic system is responsible for this. This part of the brain is the "brain reward system" and causes feelings of pleasure.



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Stimulating The Reward System Of The Brain

The brain reward system is activated by the abuse of habit forming substances. Dependency might occur if a person often triggers this system with a substance. When we do things that are good for us, he brain reward system is activated naturally. It is an important factor in our survival and adaptation. When this system is activated, the brain assumes that whatever is occurring is necessary for survival. This behaviour is then rewarded by the brain by feelings of happiness.


For instance, we trigger the rewards system every time we drink water when we are feeling thirsty so we can keep performing that action again and again. Addictive drugs cause enjoyable emotions for behaviour that is dangerous and harming to a person, triggering the reward system falsely. Sadly, the effects on the brain reward system are far much potent from addictive substances.


The Biochemistry Of Dependency

Dopamine has a critical function in the reward system. Dopamine sends signals to the reward system and is a naturally produced chemical in the brain. Drugs can either act like dopamine or lead to an increase in dopamine in the brain when they are introduced to the limbic system.

Regular actions that trigger the brain reward system (eating, drinking, sex, music') don't rewire the brain for dependency because they release regular dopamine levels.

The dopamine released by addictive substances can be up to 10 times more than the amount released from normal actions.

Neuroreceptors are flooded with dopamine with substance use. This makes one feel "high", similar to when you take drugs. The brain is no longer naturally able to make normal levels of dopamine after continues abuse. Essentially, the reward system is taken hostage by the drug.

The result is craving the substances that will bring dopamine levels back to normal. Not taking the drug automatically leads to despondency for such addicts.


Neurofeedback And Addiction

A method of addiction treatment getting popularity is neurofeedback. It is also known as Electroencephalogram (EEG) Biofeedback. The brain is trained to be able to work better with the neurofeedback process. Sensors are applied to the scalp by the person performing the therapy that monitor brain activity during this process. With this, the brain can improve its performance and make it better, the brain is then rewarded for doing that.

Underlying problems that might be activating addiction are targeted by neurofeedback and these problems are:

  • Dejected
  • Unnecessary worries
  • Trauma
  • Sleeplessness

Neurofeedback has shown that it is a great treatment for drug dependency with numerous patients by helping the brain comprehend how to function without drugs. Neurofeedback is often a part of a complete treatment plan by some treatment facilities. To reach a centre that can help you, please call us now on 0800 246 1509.