If you’ve ever misused prescription drugs, illicit substances, or alcohol, then you may understand how detrimental these substances can be to the brain. Fortunately, there are ways to heal the brain after drug addiction. Our addiction help center is sharing some tips on how to heal the brain after drug use that can help you in your recovery.
Your brain can recover from drug abuse thanks to neuroplasticity, which is an umbrella term that refers to the brain’s ability to modify, change, and adapt its structure and function throughout our lives and in response to our experiences. Also known as neural plasticity or brain plasticity, our brains can change and grow and reorganize themselves according to our experiences.
Neural plasticity makes it possible for us to learn new languages, solve complex mathematical problems, develop technical skills, and perform athletic skills, all of which are crucial for us. Although neuroplasticity is one reason why our brains can develop addictions, it’s also the key to unlocking sobriety.
Our brain’s plasticity or flexibility suggests that we can change our behaviors as we learn new skills and develop new habits. Plenty of learning models, including cognitive and dialectical behavior therapy, support the belief that people can heal from brain damage from drugs by adopting new behaviors.
The brain is a conundrum. It’s both fragile and durable, and even after withstanding the damage caused by long-term drug or alcohol abuse, healing the brain after drug use is still possible by taking advantage of brain plasticity.
If you’re in addiction recovery, below are some tips on how to heal the brain after drug use that work in tandem with neuroplasticity to help you develop healthier habits.
Medically assisted detox refers to the process of tapering or slowly weaning the body off drugs or alcohol. This type of withdrawal treatment is normally led by a medical team that may administer medication to alleviate discomfort caused by withdrawal symptoms.
Most of our patients usually begin their treatment programs at our drug detox treatment centers to help them physically manage the earlier stages of recovery as well as the onset of drug cravings. Medical detox plays a huge role in brain recovery from addiction to help it physically and chemically adapt itself to a lack of drugs.
Addictive drugs usually impact chemical balances in the brain (such as neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin) to produce euphoria and activate its reward system. The first step in recovery for most people is realigning this chemical imbalance, a process that can be kickstarted with the help of detox.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing destructive thought patterns that negatively affect your behavior and thus contribute to addiction. CBT is one of the most successful drug therapy programs because of its role in changing dysfunctional behavior.
When you engage in psychotherapy like CBT, you encourage new neural connections to develop in the brain, replacing unhealthy thoughts, emotions, and habits with healthy ones. These neural connections shape our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and behaviors.
In addition to helping us create new neural networks, CBT also increases activity in the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, brain regions that play a role in processing fears and threats as well as reasoning and rational thinking, respectively. When you participate in CBT, you’re strengthening your ability to control your emotions and impulses.
As a result, you may notice improved concentration, improved problem-solving, and you may learn healthier ways to manage stress and other challenges.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can also strengthen existing connections in the brain and help you develop new ones. One study found that continually focusing and refocusing your mind increases the connection between your auditory cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and medial posterior parietal cortex.1
These areas of the brain allow you to learn new languages, process things that you hear, and help you process information that’s relevant to yourself. In other words, meditation opens your mind to hearing positive things about yourself.
Moreover, it’s also safe to say that meditation can improve your problem-solving skills, as well. By practicing mindfulness, you increase your self-awareness, which relates to how you process both good and bad situations.
By combining both meditation and mindfulness, you’re teaching the brain how to better recognize harmful stimuli, filter out the bad things, and be more aware of your reactions to negative situations. These are all major reasons why self-awareness in addiction recovery is so crucial.
The habit of drug and alcohol abuse can put you in a rut where you’re not learning or developing your skills. So not only do these substances damage your mind, but they also prevent you from growing and moving forward in life.
If you’re learning how to heal your brain from drugs, we encourage you to take up new hobbies to not only distract yourself from drug cravings and prevent boredom but also to develop new skills and neural connections and put your mind to work after long periods of cognitive stagnation caused by drug use. Some habits that you can take up include playing an instrument, learning a new language, learning how to create something, or playing a sport.
Recovery starts with treatment, and our drug and alcohol treatment facilities are planted nationwide to help as many people as possible recover from their substance use disorders. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, our Banyan rehab locations offer various levels of substance abuse treatment individualized to meet our patients’ needs.
We know that no two people are the same, which is why our specialists conduct clinical assessments to create customized treatment plans for each of our patients. To learn how our addiction treatment specialists can help you or a loved one recover from substance abuse, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763.