When it comes to addiction, there is a lot to learn about how it affects the brain. Addiction changes the brain in both the short- and long-term and these changes can lead to problematic behaviors that can be difficult to control. The brain is a complex organ, and addiction affects it in several ways. In this article, we’ll look at how addiction affects the brain and how Northpoint Washington is helping people to overcome it.
Understanding how addiction and the brain work together is vital for effective treatments for those struggling with substance abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please reach out to Northpoint Washington. Our dual diagnosis treatment program is an excellent resource for those seeking help. Call us at 425.437.3298.
Connection Between Addiction and The Brain
Addiction is a serious problem that can profoundly affect every aspect of a person’s life. It is a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite negative consequences.
While each person’s experience with addiction is unique, some common changes happen in the brain of someone dealing with substance abuse. These changes can be seen in both the short- and long-term, and they can lead to behaviors typically associated with addiction.
In the short-term, drugs of abuse increase levels of the brain chemical dopamine. This increase produces the “high” people feel when using drugs. However, the brain adapts to this increase in dopamine levels by reducing the number of dopamine receptors. This adaptation makes it harder for the brain to experience pleasure from natural rewards like food, sex, and social interactions.
Chronic drug use can lead to changes in other brain chemicals and circuits in the long term. These changes can persist even after someone stops using drugs, contributing to cravings and an increased risk of relapse.
Alcohol and Memory Loss
It’s no secret that alcohol and memory loss go hand-in-hand. Blacking out or forgetting what happened while you were drinking is a common occurrence for many people. But why does alcohol have this effect on the brain?
The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for forming new memories and is especially vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. When you drink, alcohol interferes with the hippocampus’ ability to encode new memories. This can lead to gaps in your memory, or an inability to form new memories altogether.
In addition to its effects on the hippocampus, alcohol also impacts the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for executive functioning, including decision-making, impulsivity, and judgment. Drinking can impair the prefrontal cortex, leading to risky decision-making and dangerous behaviors.
Addiction and Mental Health
There is a strong connection between addiction and mental health. This is why it’s so important to seek treatment at a dual diagnosis facility like Northpoint Washington, where we can treat both disorders at the same time.
Addiction can worsen mental health problems and make them more challenging to treat. For example, someone with depression may start drinking to cope with their symptoms, but alcohol is a depressant and will only make the depression worse. Similarly, someone with anxiety may start using drugs to avoid feeling anxious, which will only worsen the anxiety in the long run.
Northpoint Washington Is Here to Help With Its Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program
We know there is hope when we understand how addiction and the brain work together. With treatment, people can learn to manage their addiction and live a healthy, fulfilling life. Northpoint Washington is an addiction treatment center staffed with expert specialists who know how to help our patients beat addiction. No matter your addiction, whether to alcohol or other drugs, we can get you the help you need. Call us at 425.437.3298 to learn more.