Previously, we’ve discussed before the importance of both nature and nurture in addiction and how they come into play when reaching out for drug help. The focus for now will be on the significance of the nature part of that equation and how physiology, biology, and the body (in this case, the mind) play a crucial role in this entire experience.
The Role of Neuroplasticity in Drug Help
Seeking drug help is a decision that isn’t made just one time, but which is chosen again and again. Part of this is, of course, the mental process and brain functioning. Addiction is sometimes defined as “brain disease,” but using that explanation and terminology can be highly problematic. To view addiction as a physical ailment is an over-simplification that can prove discouraging for the patient. Also, the brain is unlike all other organs, and therefore to think of it in the same terms as the others can lead to serious misunderstandings of the role that the mind plays within addiction.
“Most organs are supposed to maintain their structure throughout life. But the brain is designed to change — rapidly, radically, with learning, with experience.” As a result, the brain is, and should be, changed frequently throughout one’s lifetime. It’s a necessity of growth and living a healthy life. So, where does addiction factor into this differentiation? Some of the answer depends on whether or not you believe that substance abuse is innate, or learned. Assuming that it’s the latter means that it is able to be “un-learned,” since it wasn’t there to begin with and the “natural” state of the brain doesn’t come hand in hand with the potential for addiction.
An argument to the concept of “learned” addiction is that “self-perpetuating brain change (brought about through repeated experience) is called neuroplasticity [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][and is] the source of all learning.” So, the repeated experiences of drug or alcohol use bring about a change in the way that the mind functions. Similarly, drug help can come about as a result of repeated, positive experiences: steps toward recovery that are made part of a daily schedule to adjust this neuroplasticity. It’s this system of changeable neurons and synapses that make it possible for addiction to take root… and to be uprooted.
The brain is meant to be elastic and adjusts as life goes on, unlike much of the rest of the body. It’s because of this that there is a lot of reason to be hopeful about getting drug help and facing recovery. If you choose to believe that substance abuse is a habit that’s become an issue because routine adjusted brain chemistry, it’s a little easier to face. After all, there isn’t a way to keep the mind from doing what it’s programmed to do, but you can take steps to introduce positive changes in much the same way that the negative ones were brought about in the first place. It’s also good that “neuroplasticity is strongly amplified when people are highly motivated,” so a strong constitution or commitment to change can really help the process along.
The same kinds of change take place after head injuries or brain damage when the injured person works to recover language or other areas of functioning that may have been impacted. There is a lot of encouraging evidence that in a similar way, patients seeking drug help can adjust their lifestyles in order to find success in recovery.
For more information about getting drug help in Baltimore and Harford County, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.
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About The Bergand Group:
At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehabilitation and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]