Addiction affects millions of Americans in that it takes their confidence, hopes, dreams, and even their lives. There are many nuances to addiction, one of them being how the brain perceives things like drugs and alcohol being in the system. Just because a person drinks a lot does not make them addicted, but dependence is more about struggling to quit using drugs, use responsibly, or not be able to use without getting into trouble. 

When People Can’t Quit

People who struggle with addiction do not just wrestle with willpower. They also struggle with the belief in their ability to quit on their own. Many people can experience challenges with addiction in their lifetime, it is not just a certain type of person or demographic that is impacted. Some of the reasons people cannot just quit include the fact that the brain gets involved and is rewired. Circuits in the brain do not work like they should and begin to believe drugs or alcohol is the only (and best) way to keep feeling like it has been feeling. When addiction impacts the brain, it is not likely to let go until a person detoxes and receives help.

Brain on Drugs

Behaviors that activate regions in the brain associated with reward pathways and the pleasure center of the brain release dopamine which makes a person feel great. They activate the brain’s pleasure center so that it desires more and continues to go after the thing that made them feel good. It is difficult to imagine how the brain, hardwired for pleasure in good ways, can also turn this into something negative with drugs. Drugs feed off this positive engagement with the brain and desire more of that same feeling. 

Prefrontal Cortex

While the brain’s reward pathways are challenged, addiction also impacts the prefrontal cortical regions of the brain which oversee executive functions like decision making. This impairs a person’s ability to regulate behavior and emotions, which change how the person feels. Addiction is a disease like any other, except it has many nuances. It has detrimental impact on the brain but is not a moral failing or weakness. It is not something people can just quit when they want. The best way to overcome addiction is not only to abstain but to also restore healthy networks in the brain to reestablish healthy social networks. Being with social networks is key to finding health and happiness in recovery from addiction. 

The best way to help a loved one through addiction and recovery is to seek help for them in rehab. They require usually a difficult decision to atetnd rehab that will ultimately end in a positve way with their recovery from drugs and alcohol whicch brings them to a place of hope and healing on the other side. 

A Step in the Right Direction provides quality care for clients seeking support for addiction recovery. We teach people how to live a sober life through programs, therapeutic support, and evidence-based therapies. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information about sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702