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Can Drugs Cause a Chemical Imbalance in the Brain?

Can Drugs Cause a Chemical Imbalance in the Brain?

Addiction and Chemical Imbalance

As a rehab in Texas, we know that millions of people in the United States suffer from drug addictions. These drugs cause addictions because of their interactions with naturally occurring chemicals in the brain, known as neurotransmitters. Essentially, all mind-altering substances have the potential to impact the brain’s reward and processing systems, as well as the balance of these chemicals. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is especially impacted by drugs. It is used to send signals of pleasure and is involved in learning, creating memories, movement, and coordination. We’re discussing how drugs can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain and how such a scenario should be handled.

What Is a Chemical Imbalance in the Brain?

The definition of chemical imbalance refers to either an excess or a deficiency in the production of certain neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, in the brain and body. Common neurotransmitters that are often out of balance in people with mood disorders and addictions are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. The causes of chemical imbalance in the brain can include a variety of things, one of the most concerning being drug abuse. It’s common for long-term addicts to experience a chemical imbalance due to drugs.

Some common symptoms of a chemical imbalance include:

  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Drastic changes in appetite, which can lead to extreme fluctuations in weight
  • Intense feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, sadness, numbness, or despair
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Decrease performance at work or school
  • Isolation from loved ones

These symptoms often coincide with substance abuse. Drug abuse and chemical imbalance go hand-in-hand, and if you recognize these symptoms in someone, it may be time to get them help. Banyan Treatment Centers Texas offers a safe and effective medical detox that can serve as the first step for your loved one’s recovery journey.

How Do Drugs Affect Chemical Balance in the Brain?

The connection between addiction and chemical brain imbalance stems from the former’s effects on neurotransmitters in the central nervous system (CNS). How drugs and alcohol affect the brain’s balance of chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine is a long process. Chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are used to send signals of pleasure throughout the rest of the body and also play a role in memory formation, learning, speech, coordination, and more. Usually, the brain will naturally release dopamine when a person does something they enjoy. This signal is sent to the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain and travels to the nucleus accumbens until it reaches the prefrontal cortex.1 The VTA is one of the two dopaminergic areas of the brain and plays a major role in responses related to motivation, reward, and addiction.

The nucleus accumbens is the reward circuit of the brain that reads signals that come from the VTA when its dopamine neurons are activated. Dopamine neurons are activated when we do anything we consider rewarding, such as eating or using drugs. Like the VTA, the nucleus accumbens also plays a role in the brain’s reward system. Substances of abuse like cocaine, heroin, meth, and prescription drugs force the release of dopamine and cause a flood of it in the brain, causing a burst of euphoria. The person becomes hooked on this feeling, and the brain becomes accustomed to the drug. Using drugs for a long time can actually cause the brain to produce, absorb, or transmit less dopamine, creating a chemical imbalance that contributes to addiction.

Because the prefrontal cortex of the brain plays a role in complex planning, personality, behavior, and decision-making, it’s no wonder that drugs can alter a person’s behavior to the point where they seem unrecognizable. Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that requires professional care and treatment. Banyan offers a variety of Texas addiction treatment programs in Waelder that promote recovery from drugs like cocaine, meth, heroin, and opioids.

What Drugs Release Dopamine in the Brain?

It's crucial to be aware that using drugs improperly might disturb the delicate chemical balance in your brain. This applies to both legal and illegal medications. A variety of mental health problems and imbalances may result from this.

Some prescription and illicit drugs that can cause a chemical imbalance when abused include:

  • Ecstasy (MDMA or Molly)
  • Cocaine
  • PCP (phencyclidine)
  • Alcohol
  • Ketamine
  • Benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Xanax, etc.)
  • Sedatives and tranquilizers
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamines
  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • Concerta
  • Cocaine
  • Prescription opioids
  • Cannabis
  • Synthetic Marijuana (Spice)

Can a Chemical Imbalance Be Cured?

Yes, a chemical imbalance can be restored or cured, but addiction cannot be cured. It takes time to restore a person’s chemical imbalance. The individual may experience dopamine withdrawal and other symptoms of withdrawal related to the specific substance. With some drugs, these symptoms can be especially severe and even life-threatening. The best way to restore or cure chemical imbalance is with medical detox. Our detox centers in Texas are all led by medical staff, and we offer 24-hour care and supervision. Our team may also administer medication as needed to alleviate any pain or discomfort caused by withdrawals.

The detox process allows toxins and drugs to make their way out of the brain and body. This process is especially beneficial for chronic drug users who have struggled with substance abuse for a long time. Detox treatment offers them a safe and clean environment where they can safely go through the withdrawal phase. Different drugs may take longer to make their way out of the body than others.

How Can I Fix My Brain Chemical Imbalance Naturally?

Because drugs can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, many may find themselves in need of a natural remedy that doesn’t introduce more substances. By making changes to one's lifestyle and participating in activities that promote mental wellness, a person can naturally correct a chemically imbalanced brain. Always start with a balanced diet. Include nutritious items in your meals, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. These give the body the essential nutrients it needs to produce and control neurotransmitters, which help to stabilize mood and cognitive function.

Another effective method for restoring the normal balance of brain chemistry is regular exercise. The neurotransmitter endorphins, which are linked to happier moods and less stress, are released more readily during physical activity. Aim to combine aerobic exercise with strength training and mindfulness-enhancing activities like yoga or tai chi.

Stress management methods, including progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and deep breathing exercises, can also be quite effective. Finding productive strategies to unwind and relax is essential for reestablishing equilibrium because prolonged stress can affect neurotransmitter levels.

Last but not least, getting enough sleep is essential. An ideal amount of sleep each night is between seven and nine hours. The brain goes through critical processes necessary for neurotransmitter modulation and general mental health when sleeping. A more balanced brain chemistry can be significantly influenced by developing a regular sleep schedule and providing a relaxing sleeping environment.

Medical detox is most effective when paired with additional forms of addiction treatment. We offer various levels of care that can help you or a loved one recover from drug and alcohol abuse. Call our Banyan Texas rehab now at 888-280-4763 for more information.


Related Readings:

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Three C's of Addiction

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Can Drugs Cause a Chemical Imbalance in the Brain?
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