How Addiction Affects The Brain
It can be easy to wonder why someone struggling with addiction doesnt just stop using. One of the reasons for this is because of addictions powerful effects on the brain itself. Understanding addiction also means understanding how ongoing substance use quite literally changes how the brain works.
How To Identify And Change Negative Reactions
Adverse reactions to stressful situations and events are the core reasons people use addictive substances and behaviors to escape reality. Once a person becomes dependent o these substances and behaviors, they are classified as an addict. To indeed be honest with yourself and change, you should first identify the adverse reactions that you exhibit.
- Identify triggers: Think about the things, people, places, or situations that cause you to become stressed-out and triggered. If you are honest with yourself, you should be able to identify these triggers and think about alternatives, ways to support going through them, or ways to eliminate them from your life.
- Combat negativity when it comes up: Understanding the neural pathways in your mind will help you identify negative ways of thinking. Negative thoughts that are caught early on can be diminished with breathing exercises, mantra sayings, personal connections through phone calls, or other techniques to combat that negativity.
- Acknowledge trauma: Addicts tend to be people with traumatic life experiences. If you are unable to come to terms with the trauma you have faced, you may need to seek professional counseling with treatment centers like Steps Recovery Centers. However, if you can acknowledge the trauma of your past, journal or speak about it, and then let it go, you can significantly reduce your stress and depression.
Factors That Affect How Long It Takes The Brain To Recover From Addiction Including:
- Age and health condition
- Advanced recovery
1. Treatment initiation
The first stage of recovery is when someone seeking help for addiction begins treatment. This can include entering a detox programme, attending inpatient rehab, going to meetings, or engaging in therapy or counselling.
Those in treatment initiation may grapple with a fear of whether or not they can actually end use and find recovery. They may even second-guess being in treatment, romanticising what life was like whilst they were using. Its essential for those in this stage to know that the recovery process, especially at the beginning, will feel challenging and scary to face. However, remembering their own reasons for engaging in treatment while leaning on others for support can help to navigate this stage successfully.
2. Early abstinence
The next stage of recovery from addiction is early abstinence. This stage essentially begins after someone has become fully engaged in treatment. This is arguably the most challenging stage of recovery to go through, on a mental, emotional, and even physical level.
Those in early abstinence will face withdrawal symptoms as the body has stopped ingesting substances. In this stage, those in recovery will have to face the difficult emotions theyve been avoiding. They may explore traumas theyve been trying to forget. They may even feel numb, unsure of how to even feel emotions as theyve been disconnected from them for so long.
3. Maintaining abstinence
4. Advanced recovery
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Does The Brain Recover From Addiction
Long-term substance use impairs brain functioning in many ways. However, studies have shown that the brain can recover from addiction, although it takes time.
Some studies have demonstrated improvements in brain functioning following abstinence in as little as 90 days. Other studies have demonstrated brain healing after approximately 12 to 18 months of consistent abstinence.
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Topics Covered In Our Ultimate Guide To Addiction Recovery Include:
- How long it can take a person to overcome addiction
- Can addiction be cured?
- How long a detox can last
- How long rehab takes
- Does the brain ever fully recover from addiction?
- How drugs and alcohol affect the brain
- The 4 stages of addiction recovery
- The 5 stages of change
- How to prevent relapse in recovery from addiction
- The importance of self-help groups and recovery communities
- How to prevent addiction
Read on to find out more on these topics, and answers to the common questions asked, in our Ultimate guide to addiction recovery.
The Length Of Time It Takes For Someone To Overcome Their Addiction Is Based On Many Factors Including:
- What kind of substance they were using
- How long they were using for
- Whether or not they were using multiple substances
- Whether or not they have a co-occurring mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or PTSD
- Their previous experiences, or trauma theyve endured
- Their relationships and social support network
- Living environment
Overcoming addiction and experiencing recovery is not just about ending substance use. Understanding addiction on a deeper level means knowing that ending substance use is just the first step.
Recovery involves looking inward and truly healing oneself from the inside out. For someone to experience long-lasting recovery from addiction, they must work on understanding the underlying issues that drove their substance use in the first place.
Many people may engage in substance use in an effort to numb or escape difficult emotions, or to forget painful memories. Some use to try and feel something after struggling with numbness or emptiness.
Although healing is an ongoing process, some substances do move out of the system quicker than others. However, just because the body is no longer receiving substances does not mean someone is recovered. The process of recovery is ongoing and stopping substances is merely the first but crucial first step.
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Create Or Join A Community
When addicts are together, they can feed off each other and create justifications for their acting out. Finding quality relationships with healthy boundaries should be a priority early in your recovery. The best way to do that is to join with like-minded people in a healthy community.
If you have to, you may need to create a new community of like-minded and healthy individuals to develop strong bonds with for your recovery. However, one of the best ways to join a community is to find existing groups of people and follow some steps to make yourself present and available for the kinds of healing relationships those in recovery need.
Preventing Relapse In Recovery From Addiction
Preventing relapse in recovery from addiction is one of the foundations of ongoing treatment. While many focus on the challenges that arise whilst gaining sobriety, there is also conscious effort that must be made when maintaining it. Recovery from addiction doesnt happen on its own, and is a conscious act. Therefore, the same can be said for preventing relapse.
An important concept to understand about relapse is that it doesnt happen as impulsively as one may be led to believe. There is whats often referred to as the relapse before the relapse, or the mental and emotional build-up that leads to the physical relapse.
In the first stage of relapse, an individual may not be thinking about using at all.
However, they may be
- Not leaning on others for support or help
- Pretending everything is okay when it really isnt
- Developing poor sleeping or eating habits
If left unmanaged, this can lead to the second stage of relapse, which is the mental relapse. At this stage, someone may be entertaining the idea of using again. They may be romanticising what they felt like back when they were using. They may reflect on things being better than they actually were. Additionally, someone in this stage may have the idea that they can use just once, and that it wont lead to a negative consequence.
Since relapse is a process, it is entirely preventable at any stage. As previously mentioned, preventing relapse takes conscious effort, and can look different for everyone.
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From Crisis To Solution
Its a call anyone might dread but that has become only too commonplace in the opioid crisis. Someone you love is in the emergency room with a substance use problem, their release is imminent, and you have to quickly act to leverage the situation into a long-term solution. How do you find a high-quality addiction treatment program, one that you can afford?
Here are 12 things to look for:
LinkedIn Image Credit: SeventyFour/Shutterstock
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Everyone Recovers From Addiction Differently
From our ultimate guide to addiction recovery, you will have probably come to the realisation that addiction recovery is a very personal journey and that there are many different approaches, treatments and sources.
Recoverlution has brought the various different fragmented approaches together within one safe and easy to access space. Here, you can join a recovery community, attend meetings, read about addition and recovery, and access evidence based methods to improve and sustain wellness.
Recoverlution offers a great space for those in recovery or seeking recovery to gain knowledge and feel accepted.
Reach Out To Steps Recovery Center
If you or a loved one need further help in addressing recovery from addiction, there are professional, holistic, rehab centers, such as the Steps Recovery Center, who can help. We have a team of counselors and medical professionals ready to help you make the necessary changes and re-enter a life of sobriety. We have locations in Salt Lake and Utah counties in Utah. Reach out to us today with any questions you may have.
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The Four Major Dimensions Of Recovery:
How Long Does Detox Take
When getting help for addiction, some may enter into a detox programme. During detoxification substances are flushed from the body. A person with a substance dependence will most likely experience withdrawal symptoms at this point. The duration and severity of withdrawal can vary based on the severity of the addiction and the type of substance used. After the initial detox period, withdrawal symptoms will begin to fade.
The period of time it takes for a substance to leave the body depends on the specific substance. For instance, it can take ten days for the body to flush itself of alcohol. Detox from heroin can take an average of 5 to 7 days, and up to 14 days in instances of chronic use. A substance like methamphetamine, however, is short-acting. This means it leaves the bodys system faster. A detox for short-acting stimulants can last as little as 3 days.
Some substances, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, are dangerous to try and detox from without help. Doing so may lead to severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, delirium tremens, or even death. This is why when seeking help for addiction, the safest option is to have a medical detox. This can take place at either a hospital or through a rehab programme.
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What Are The Common Types Of Recovery Programs
Treatment for a substance use disorder can be given in a number of ways. Depending on your location, drug abused, and severity of addiction, you may be referred to any of the following types of recovery programs:
Given the high rates of mental health issues in the LGBT community, therapy can play a vital role in treating addiction. LGBT individuals who are in therapy often report feeling anxious, fearful, isolated, depressed, and have trouble trusting other people. All of these feelings can fuel substance abuse, so its especially important to address mental health concerns during treatment.
Numerous studies have found that both individual counseling and 12-step program participation are beneficial components of substance abuse treatment. Depending on your situation, you may engage in any or all of the following during rehab:
How Long Does Rehab Last
If someone enters rehab, the length of time of their stay will be based upon their needs as well as the guidelines of the specific rehab programme. Some rehab programmes last for 28 days, while others can last for 60 or 90 days. There are rehab programmes that can last for 6 months to 1 year.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, experiencing positive outcomes from treatment is based on sufficient treatment length. Research has shown that those who attend treatment for less than 90 days have poorer incomes than those who attend treatment for longer.
This is why its so essential to enter an outpatient recovery programme upon ending inpatient treatment. Getting help for addiction means continuing to attend treatment, so that life after rehab doesn’t result in relapse.
Some forms of outpatient treatment can include one-on-one therapy, counselling, outpatient group therapy, aftercare or attending meetings.
Recovery from addiction is truly ongoing. There is no set point when someone is recovered, as healing and growing happen continuously at each new level of recovery.
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Increasing Protective Factors Against Addiction Can Involve:
- Engaging in therapy to ensure emotions are being experienced and not repressed.
- Working through any history of trauma that is impacting the present
- Leaning on family, friends, and loved ones for support
- Attending self-help groups or meetings to increase a sense of connectedness for a shared struggle
- Making sure ones basic needs are being met, such as getting enough sleep and eating in a way that helps the body
There Are Many Factors Contributing To The Development Of Addiction Including:
- Mental health issues
- Family history of substance use
- A history of trauma
The earlier someone engages in substance use, the more likely they are to become addicted. Engaging in prevention efforts for adolescents is an integral way of reducing the risk of an addiction developing.
Studies continue to demonstrate that research-based programs have been able to reduce early use of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances.
Additionally, the risk of engaging in substance use increases during times of transition. For youth, this can include transitioning into middle school or high school, or dealing with divorce amongst parents. For adults, this can look like experiencing job loss, divorce, or the death of a loved one.
During these times, it is important to increase ones protective factors against developing an addiction.
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How To Make Different Social Choices Around Your Addiction
If you cant see yourself changing your friends and social circles that have been a part of your addiction, you need to seek help or guidance. Many experts, including Dr. Steven Melesis, a well-known addiction recovery expert and author of the article in the Yale Biomedical Journal titled Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Addiction, states that the first stage of recovery is The Abstinence Stage.
The Abstinence Stage is characterized by the need to distance yourself from the drugs or behaviors of the addiction and any friends that are still using. This stage can last anywhere from one to two years. It has many risks involved, including intense cravings, poor self-care, and new addictions coming to the forefront.
To make different social choices around your addiction, you need to examine the social circle surrounding you. The chances are that the friends, locations, and even recreations that you visit and take part in enjoying are in some way triggers your addiction.
You can do several things right now on your own to make different social choices around your addiction this will greatly enhance your ability to get sober and continue in your recovery.
Some Of The Benefits Of Attending Self
- Learning from others
- Gaining accountability from others
- Increasing introspection
Many struggling with addiction feel alone, and feel that no one could understand what they are going through. However, addiction recovery communities can help individuals feel validated in everything they’re experiencing, and to know that these struggles are a normal part of the journey.
Struggling with addiction can embed a deep sense of low self-esteem and low self-worth. Support groups can their help attendees to build self-confidence and self-efficacy.
Support groups are a great way to provide accountability and maintain sobriety. Many support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and SMART Recovery encourage introspection, which is foundational for healing and growth.
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