How Long Does Dopamine Take To Recover
There is no definitive answer to this question because of the many variables that take place during substance addiction. There are some questions to ask, however, if you want to get a better idea of how long it could take to restore dopamine levels. They include:
- How long has the person been using drugs?
- Which drugs are being used? What kinds of drugs are they?
- What is the users standard dose? Is it high? Is it low?
- How old is the user?
- Are they using multiple substances at the same time ?
- Did they have dopamine deficiency before use?
- Do they struggle with depression or another mental health disorder?
If someone is a long-term alcohol or drug abuser, most addiction specialists agree that it could take around 90 days to have levels return to where they were before using. Unfortunately, drugs such as methamphetamine complicate these answers, and for heavy methamphetamine users, it could take up to an entire year before they resume normal dopamine functions. In more severe cases, recovering methamphetamine users may never return to normal dopamine levels because of how the drug depletes the chemical in the reuptake process.
Effects Of Opioids Can Linger Beyond Recovery
Once opioid users become and remain sober, their brain chemistry and neurological functioning will begin to stabilize and return to a relatively normal state. However, there are lingering effects that can remain with a person in recovery from opioid addiction for months or even years after their use has stopped. These effects, or symptoms, are known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome , and they are an unfortunate consequence of having been a habitual substance abuse for a prolonged period.
The lasting psychological effects brought on by prolonged opioid use are arguably the most persistent. Without the daily, habitual abuse of opioid pain relievers, individuals are confronted with their undiluted emotions, which can be overwhelming at first. It takes time to adjust to this as the return of ones emotional sensitivity often feels like an emotional flood. Additionally, many people who have overcome an opioid addiction will be prone to experiencing depression. Ongoing treatment that involves counseling and methods, such as a 12-step program, can help people manage their PAWS symptoms as needed.
The Top Tools Being Utilized For Research On The Brain In Recovery
Functional brain measurement techniques:
Methods that provide dynamic physiological information about brain function/activity. Functional imaging techniques allow scientists to measure the contributions of various structures to specific psychological processes . Commonly obtained while participants complete tasks, functional images offer insight to the brain regions that are activated, or recruited, to perform a given task. Atypical brain function in patient populations can include reduced neural activation or a different pattern of brain activation as compared to healthy control populations.
- Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Also known as a functional MRI , this imaging technique measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow and oxygenation.
- Numerous studies utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging have shown that drug cues elicit increased regional blood flow in reward-related brain areas among addicted participants that is not found among normal controls
See the fMRI in action:
Structural brain measurement techniques:
Imaging techniques that allow one to examine the brains anatomical structure. Structural imaging provides static information, and is analogous to taking a photograph of the brain. These images permit evaluation of gross anatomical abnormalities, including tissue atrophy and reduced white matter integrity .
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Physical Dependence And Detox
Opioid addiction leads to changes in certain areas of your brain. Prescription drug addiction alters the circuits that handle mood and reward behavior.
In addition, long-term prescription drug abuse affects almost all of your bodyâs systems. When you cut off the opioid supply, youâre likely to get withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Craving for drugs
- Body aches
- Agitation and severe bad moods
If you have an opioid addiction, you know that a list of these symptoms doesn’t capture the agony of going through them. Itâs very unpleasant, and youâll do almost anything to avoid it.
Opioid withdrawal lasts hours to days — and sometimes weeks. It depends on which drug you were taking, how long you were taking it, and how much. After the intense initial symptoms subside, some physical and mental discomfort may linger for weeks.
Heres How The Dopamine System Works
Dopamine is just one of many neurotransmitters that controls communication in the brain. There is epinephrine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, etc. What makes dopamine so interesting is that it exists in both the right side of the brain and the left side of the brain, sending various signals throughout the body. Its easy to assume that the higher the dopamine levels, the better, but the key is to maintain a healthy dopamine balance because dopamine influences everything from our movement and our sleep to our memory and our attention.
If your dopamine levels are low, you could experience a wide range of issues, such as loss of balance, muscle cramps, low energy, weight change, anxiety, mood swings, a low sex drive, hallucinations, or depression. However, when you have high levels of dopamine, you could experience anxiety, agitation, a high sex drive, high productivity, stress, paranoia, and yes, heightened levels of pleasure.
All of us experience dopamine differently. You and I may have equally high levels of dopamine, but our symptoms and experiences will be completely different. Some individuals are more sensitive to dopamine than others, which partially explains why some of us are more susceptible to alcohol or drug use disorders.
When it comes to alcohol use disorder, and the recovery process, its important to understand how dopamine actually works and how alcohol impact the dopamine system.
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How To Repair Your Brain After Drug Use
Some of the healing process has to do with the food you eat, how much water you drink, how much you exercise, and your immune system. Doing what you can to boost your overall health will help. Psychologically, you will do better if you head to group meetings and therapists, since there you will find others who will be able to help you get through the worst of the detoxing and rehabilitation process.
The content on Rehabs.com is brought to you by American Addiction Centers , a nationwide network of leading substance abuse and behavioral treatment facilities.
Inpatient Facilities Vs Outpatient Treatment
Opiate addiction is treatable. Rehabilitation programs can be inpatient or outpatient. Inpatient facilities provide a place to live, meals, and on-site treatment options. Inpatient programs are more highly structured and relatively intensive when compared to many outpatient options.
Many patients benefit from the 24-hour support and treatment and the separation from their previous drug-using environment and friends. Inpatient is often the appropriate setting for someone with:
- A severe opiate addiction.
- An addiction to more than one drug.
- Previous opiate withdrawal or detox experiences.
- A co-occurring mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression.
- A co-occurring medical condition.
- A medical concern or special circumstance, such as pregnancy.
- A history of treatment noncompliance.
You may enter an inpatient rehab after completing detox or detox may be incorporated into the start of an inpatient or residential program. Its important that you do your research before picking a treatment facility so that you can ensure you receive the comprehensive care necessary to help you quit abusing opiates.
You may receive opiate detox medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine .3 These medications help to curb opiate cravings and mitigate unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as:3
- Rapid pulse.
- Runny nose and tearing eyes.
- Muscle spasms.
- Excessive yawning.
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How Addictive Are Opioids
It takes a couple of weeks to become physically dependent on an opioid, but that varies by individual. If you take an opioid for a day or two, it should not be a problem and, generally, you will not become addicted. However, some studies show even the first dose of an opioid can have physiological effects.
For some time in this country we believed patients werent at risk of addiction. No one knows for sure the percentage of those who are at risk. What we do know now through an annual survey of drug use in the U.S., when people were asked if they had used heroin, researchers found that 50 percent of those who had also had a longtime history of opioid use and 50 percent of those went on to have problematic heroin use.
We also know that the duration of opioid use can lead to physical dependence. If youre taking an opioid regularly for a period of time theres a chance that youll become physically dependent, and thats a risk factor for continued opioid use.
Finding The Best Opiate Rehab Program Near Me
There may be treatment programs near you, but it may not be best for your individual needs and is worth considering relocating for for opiate rehab treatment. Relocating or traveling may assist you in achieving a fresh start, without the distractions of friends or family. Staying near home may allow you to see your loved ones more frequently, which may be helpful if they support your treatment.
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Tips For Cutting Down
Many people who develop opioid addiction want to cut down and reduce the problems associated with use rather than quit altogether. Eventually, most learn about their need to stop completely. Deciding how to start the processgradually or abruptlyis something each person should work out or discuss with the help of a clinician.
Opioid Detox Options & Withdrawal Treatment
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be intensely uncomfortable and in certain situations withdrawal from opioids may be dangerous and even life-threatening.9 The opioid withdrawal timeline varies from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of opioid that was used, how long it was used, and any other drugs that were used.6 Medically managed withdrawal, or detoxification, can help you make it through safely and comfortably.
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Opioid Tolerance Dependence And Withdrawal
From a clinical standpoint, opioid withdrawal is one of the most powerful factors driving opioid dependence and addictive behaviors. Treatment of the patients withdrawal symptoms is based on understanding how withdrawal is related to the brains adjustment to opioids.
Repeated exposure to escalating dosages of opioids alters the brain so that it functions more or less normally when the drugs are present and abnormally when they are not. Two clinically important results of this alteration are opioid tolerance and drug dependence . Withdrawal symptoms occur only in patients who have developed tolerance.
Opioid tolerance occurs because the brain cells that have opioid receptors on them gradually become less responsive to the opioid stimulation. For example, more opioid is needed to stimulate the VTA brain cells of the mesolimbic reward system to release the same amount of DA in the NAc. Therefore, more opioid is needed to produce pleasure comparable to that provided in previous drug-taking episodes.
The Neurobiological Basis of Dependence and Withdrawal
The locus ceruleus is an area of the brain that is critically involved in the production of opioid dependence and withdrawal. The diagrams show how opioid drugs affect processes in the LC that control the release of noradrenaline , a brain chemical that stimulates wakefulness, muscle tone, and respiration, among other functions.
How Can You Avoid Addiction To Opioids
If you or a loved one is considering taking opioids to manage pain, it is vital to talk to a physician anesthesiologist or other pain medicine specialist about using them safely and exploring alternative options if needed. Learn how to work with your physician anesthesiologist or another physician to use opioids more wisely and safely and explore what pain management alternatives might work for you.
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Definitions Of Key Terms
dopamine : A neurotransmitter present in brain regions that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and the feeling of pleasure.
GABA : A neurotransmitter in the brain whose primary function is to inhibit the firing of neurons.
locus ceruleus : A region of the brain that receives and processes sensory signals from all areas of the body involved in arousal and vigilance.
noradrenaline : A neurotransmitter produced in the brain and peripheral nervous system involved in arousal and regulation of blood pressure, sleep, and mood also called norepinephrine.
nucleus accumbens : A structure in the forebrain that plays an important part in dopamine release and stimulant action one of the brains key pleasure centers.
prefrontal cortex : The frontmost part of the brain involved in higher cognitive functions, including foresight and planning.
ventral tegmental area : The group of dopamine-containing neurons that make up a key part of the brain reward system key targets of these neurons include the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex
Opioid Agonists And Partial Agonists
Studies show that people with opioid use disorder who follow detoxification with complete abstinence are very likely to relapse, or return to using the drug.10 While relapse is a normal step on the path to recovery, it can also be life threatening, raising the risk for a fatal overdose.11 Thus, an important way to support recovery from heroin or prescription opioid use disorder is to maintain abstinence from those drugs. Someone in recovery can also use medications that reduce the negative effects of withdrawal and cravings without producing the euphoria that the original drug of abuse caused. For example, the FDA recently approved lofexidine, a non-opioid medicine designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms. Methadone and buprenorphine are other medications approved for this purpose.
Methadone is a synthetic opioid agonist that eliminates withdrawal symptoms and relieves drug cravings by acting on opioid receptors in the brainthe same receptors that other opioids such as heroin, morphine, and opioid pain medications activate. Although it occupies and activates these opioid receptors, it does so more slowly than other opioids and, in an opioid-dependent person, treatment doses do not produce euphoria. It has been used successfully for more than 40 years to treat opioid use disorder and must be dispensed through specialized opioid treatment programs.12
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Early Stage: Stopping Opioids And Cravings
A person will begin experiencing cravings for opioids shortly after they stop taking them and usually around the time they would have taken their next dose.
The half-life of a drug can help predict when these cravings will begin. The half-life of a drug is the period of time it takes the body to eliminate half a dose of it.
Most opioids have a short half-life of just a few hours. Oxycodones half-life is
- a preoccupation with opioids
- physical symptoms that may get steadily worse
At this stage, a person may still be able to manage their withdrawal symptoms with distraction, support, or doing something else that leads to pleasure.
However, some individuals may require treatment during this stage.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms will become progressively more severe as opioids leave the body.
With most drugs, the symptoms are the most intense a day or so after a person stops using. However, extended-release drugs and long-acting opioids may have a later peak, at around 3072 hours after a person stops using them.
At this peak stage, a person may feel very sick. Some common symptoms include:
- mood changes, anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness
- intense drug cravings
- flu-like symptoms
This stage of withdrawal is the most powerful, and it is the time when a person is at higher risk of relapse. A person may be unable to distract themselves or think about anything else. They may also be so sick that they cannot get out of bed.
Why Opiate Withdrawal Happens
An opiate detox should be the first to on you or your loved ones path to addiction recovery. Once individuals stop consuming opiates, the body will begin to go into withdrawal.
While the severity of withdrawal symptoms will vary, at a minimum theyll be uncomfortable. However, theyre a necessary part of the recovery process. During withdrawal, the body and the brain will naturally get rid of all opiates in the system.
There are two important things to note about the necessity of withdrawal. First, the withdrawal itself has to happen. You cant overcome addiction until your system is detoxified. Second, going through withdrawal under professional medical supervision is key. Medical staff will be able to monitor your condition and act accordingly if complications arise.
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Timeline Of Opioid Withdrawal
Knowing the approximate timeline and different stages of withdrawal helps manage expectations for the start of recovery. Many people underestimate the discomfort they will experience, as well as the drug cravings withdrawal brings. To better envision the timeline, it helps to break down the stages of opioid withdrawal.
The full opioid withdrawal timeline is longer than many people imagine when considering PAWS. A person in treatment needs a strong support system and ongoing therapy to maintain strides they make in recovery.