Addiction impacts the brain on many levels. The chemical compounds in stimulant, nicotine, opioids, alcohol, and sedatives, enter the brain and bloodstream upon use. Once a chemical enters the brain, it can cause people to lose control of their impulses or crave a harmful substance. When someone develops an addiction, the brain craves the reward of the substance.
This is due to the intense stimulation of the brain’s reward system. In response, many continue the use of the substance, unlocking a host of euphoric feelings and strange behavioral traits. Long-term addiction can have severe outcomes, such as brain damage, and can even result in death.
Is the Brain Damage Caused by Drug Abuse Minimal?
Drug abuse has devastating effects on the mind, behavior, and relationships, but the permanent effects of drugs on the body can slowly destroy vital systems and functions, culminating in permanent disability or even death. Even legal drugs, taken to excess, can cause significant problems that cannot be easily undone; and for some illegal drugs, excessive consumption might not even be necessary for lifelong damage to occur. The use of drugs causes more than minimal damage to the brain.
Is Brain Damage from Substance Abuse Reversible?
The saying that brain damage is irreversible is a myth. Brain damage is an extremely scary thing. For something so mysterious and amazing, the brain can be quite fragile and susceptible to the abuse of drugs. Brain damage can be caused by the smallest amount of drug abuse, and it essentially means the death of brain cells. To many people, the mere idea of brain damage conjures images of people in persistent vegetative states, or at the very least, permanent physical or mental disability. But that’s not always the case.
There are many different types of brain damage, and exactly how it will affect someone depends largely on its location and how severe it is. Mild brain damage can be resulting in bleeding and tearing of the tissue in the brain. The brain can recover from minor brain damage remarkably well; most people who experience mild brain damage don’t experience permanent disability. On the other end of the spectrum, severe brain damage due to drug abuse means that the brain has suffered extensive damage. It sometimes requires surgery to remove built-up blood or relieve pressure. For nearly all patients who live through severe brain damage due to drug abuse, permanent, irreversible damage results.
Does Time Heal Brain Damage?
There is minimal evidence on how we can improve brain recovery from substance use, but emerging literature suggests that exercise as an intervention may improve brain recovery. Physical activity has been shown to improve brain health and neuroplasticity. In previous studies of adults, physical activity has improved executive control, cerebral blood flow, and white matter integrity. While the brain can improve from most brain damage, there are some things that the National Institute of Drug Abuse has confirmed may stay damaged in the long run.
Scientists have linked dopamine to most drugs of abuse – including cocaine, marijuana, heroin, alcohol, and nicotine. These drugs all activate the reward system and cause neurons to release large amounts of dopamine. Over time, drugs damage this part of the brain. As a result of this damage, things that used to make you feel good – like eating ice cream, skateboarding, or getting a hug – no longer feel as good. (NIDA)
Every time a person takes a hit, sniffs a line, or injects a dose of drugs in their body, there is a possibility this substance could cause brain damage. Getting help for your or a loved ones substance abuse as soon as possible is the best solution fo reversing the negative effects of chemical dependency.
How Can Garden State Treatment Center Help You?
Here at Garden State Treatment Center, we provide group therapy, individual addiction counseling, relapse prevention treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, 12 step addiction treatment, and many other services that facilitate the recovery of anyone with brain damage caused by drug abuse. We believe in treating the entire person, not just their addictions.
We personalize their treatment plan based on their individual characteristics to provide a long-lasting and meaningful recovery. You can assume to come out of our program changed, firm, and prepared to begin a lifetime of recovery regardless of the extent of the brain damage. Our admissions team is standing by for your call.