Healing Your Neurotransmitters Restoring Balance After Drug Use

A long-term use disorder can cover multiple years with or without attempts at recovery. For example, users of the opiate heroin typically use it for close to a decade before attempting to recover through a treatment program. We know that the thought of overcoming drug use can seem like a daunting task — but you don’t have to go it alone. At Midwest Recovery Centers, we offer both a medically supervised residential detox center and a multi-phase treatment program that includes CBT.

  • Brain receptors are specialized protein molecules located on the surface of neurons in the brain.
  • Urinalysis screening was used to compare group changes in the odds of any substance use throughout the study (from baseline to follow-up).
  • For some people needing recovery, this may come as a surprise when their belief may be a brain damaged by substance use disorders cannot be restored or repaired.
  • As soon as you do, your brain will start to repair itself and to return to the state in which it existed before you started using.
  • Areas where DNA is unwound contain active genes coding for proteins that serve important functions within the cell.

You can promote healthy changes in the brains and behaviors of patients with AUD by encouraging them to take a long-term, science-based approach to getting better. For practical, evidence-based tips on supporting your patients with AUD, see the Core articles on treatment, referral, and recovery. As casual drinking and drug use progress into a tolerance, natural dopamine levels decrease, forcing you to use more of the substance to achieve the same desired effect. In time, your physical and psychological dependence may increase to a point where the addictive behavior is no longer enjoyable, but something you must do to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Despite the reduced reward, neuroplasticity makes maintaining addiction the most natural course of action.

The Brain’s Role in Addiction

Exposing yourself to positive things that make you happy in your recovery is a type of active recovery for your brain that can help speed up the process. Although this task may sound daunting at first, you can and you will in recovery. This part of the brain plays a role in feelings of stress including anxiety and irritability. Again, this circuit can become sensitive with prolonged substance abuse and in time a person who abuses substances ends up using to get temporary relief from these uncomfortable feelings, rather than to feel euphoric. Addiction is essentially neuroplasticity in action; it’s learning a new behavior that turns into a habit (although a bad one).

If you stop using the drug, you go through emotional, physical, and mental side effects in the short term. You might have intense drug cravings, anxiety, and physical symptoms similar to the flu, depending on the drug you’re addicted to. An effective way to help sharpen the mind in recovery is using mindful meditation techniques such as focused breathing. Mindful meditation helps you stay grounded in the present and not only helps your brain regain normal cognitive functioning but also helps reduce cravings and the risk of relapse. Fortunately, you’ll be glad to know that the brain is a very resilient organ with incredible powers of repair. If you or someone you love has abused or even have just occasionally used drugs, you may be wondering how one might go about repairing his or her brain afterward.


In flies, a high sugar diet can reprogram the ability to taste sweetness by tapping into a gene expression network involved in development. They can alter which proteins bind to DNA to turn genes on and off and which segments of DNA are unwound. They can change the process of how DNA is read and translated into proteins, as well as alter the proteins that determine how cells use energy to function. The time it takes to heal the brain after addiction will vary depending on a variety of factors including which substances you took and for how long. In general, the rewiring process can take as little as a month but more commonly several months, and in other cases it can be a much longer process. This is a process in which the brain learns how to react differently to those triggers.

  • Addictive drugs usually impact chemical balances in the brain (such as neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin) to produce euphoria and activate its reward system.
  • Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond.
  • It is a transdisciplinary approach to understanding how the brain works—weaving together understandings of why we behave as we do from fields as varied as anthropology, computer science, and psychology.
  • Each of your brain cells has your genetic code stored in long strands of DNA.

All drugs have more than one effect on your brain, and typically, substance use will have a mental and physical impact on you. Structural imaging techniques allow one to examine the brain’s physical, anatomical structure. Structural imaging is essentially cross-sectional, in that it provides signs of drug use static information and is analogous to taking a photograph of the brain. These images permit evaluation of overall anatomical abnormalities, including tissue atrophy (i.e., loss of neural tissue) and reduced white matter integrity (i.e., weakened connections between neural structures).