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Recovering from Addiction: Fighting the Brain

Recovering from Addiction and Issues of Substance Abuse - The Bergand Group

We’ve discussed before that brain chemistry has a serious hold over your struggle with (and ability to overcome) addiction and issues of substance abuse. Researchers are still announcing huge developments within this field, though: “Yesterday, MIT neuroscientists unveiled a groundbreaking new discovery that pinpoints the brain mechanics involved in making an emotional decision.” We are becoming more able to understand the nature and origins of addiction every day with these kinds of studies, and with that understanding, we can more adeptly help those who are recovering from addiction.

How Neuroscience Aids in Recovering from Addiction

Recovering from addiction requires making choices and commitments to change each and every day. Sometimes, that can mean fighting your own brain, your own body, when it’s pushing for the more unhealthy choice. Each time you are faced with one of these moments, whether it’s related to drug or alcohol use or not, you face the challenge of “a ‘cost-benefit analysis’ of the pros and cons.” Maybe even without consciously going through that thought process, you make a decision based on the option that seems to be the most rewarding at the time.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Your brain, rewired by issues of substance abuse, may encourage you to imbibe because that seems to have the most immediate reward. Of course, abusing drugs and alcohol ultimately has many more cons than pros, and despite an objective knowledge of this, people make those choices again and again. Why?

The part of the brain that was the focus of this particular study was the “striatum, a subsection of the basal ganglia, which holds a cluster of various brain regions that are associated with habit formation, control of voluntary movements, emotions, and addiction.” It’s easy to see, based on this definition, how a person might be “convinced” by their brain chemistry to make one of these “emotional decisions” for the worse rather than for the better.

When people are recovering from addiction, they need all the help and support that they can get. If a part of their own system is working against them, then that ongoing process becomes all the more difficult. Further complicating the issue is that most people don’t take the time to educate themselves about the general nature of addiction and therefore don’t understand how and why these periods can be so intense. A degree in neuroscience isn’t necessary for a rudimentary understanding of how addiction takes such a strong hold of a person. Perhaps that is the piece that’s missing in most modern options for recovering from addiction. If there were more of an informative piece, then researchers and patients alike might be able to get more of a serious grasp on how best to combat issues of substance abuse.

“The researchers believe that the output from the striatum suggests… powerful and focused control over elements of the dopamine system in both typical and atypical situations.” Whereas a person might face ‘typical’ situations of dilemma and undergo this process daily, an ‘atypical example might include a potential drug relapse or intense cravings for a drink. The power exerted by the striatum is substantial and should not be overlooked in any study of the influence that the brain has over an addiction.

The conclusion from these particular scientists is that (as usual) more research is needed into the influence of the brain, and the striatum in particular, over the decisions associated with addiction and, really, decision-making in general. If recovering from addiction involves a fight against a person’s own mind, then he or she should have some of the tools to best stand against that internal assault. If you are struggling with issues of substance abuse and want a smoother recovery experience, then 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, including medication management strategies.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

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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 rehab 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]

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