When we indulge in alcohol or other illicit drugs, we’re likely to experience a variety of symptoms – including euphoria. It’s that “rush” that many people chase after, but what is it about substances that gives them such a pleasurable feeling? One component of family and individual addiction recovery is exploring how drugs affect the brain – by understanding how substances work, we can more effectively treat the complex brain disease and gain some solidarity from an otherwise frustrating, downright devastating experience that many people throughout the world undergo.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that while the initial use of substances is voluntary, repeated drug use can lead to structural changes in the brain that cause substance abuse to become involuntary over time; addiction is considered a “relapsing” disease because drugs can alter functions in the brain to become hardwired for more use. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter – or, in other words, a chemical messenger – that affects the brain’s reward circuit and is responsible for all of those euphoric feelings. The Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah notes that drugs bring about an influx of dopamine which is much greater than the amount that the brain naturally releases from pleasurable activities such as eating delicious food or traveling.

Over time, the brain’s response to this dopamine influx becomes “used” to the amount coming in – and this is when addiction really kicks in, because the brain will begin demanding more and more of the drug. Brain regions responsible for judgment, decision making, learning, memory and more change over time, and connections in the brain become geared towards drug use – almost as a reflex.

Recovery is possible, but treatment must be sought. If you’re ready to change your life in some truly positive, transformative ways, speak with a professional from Alta Loma today.

If you’re ready to begin taking great strides towards your health and wellbeing, speak with a professional from Alta Loma today. Mental illness should be taken seriously and, if not treated early on, more severe conditions can arise. The best way to promote happiness and health is to seek help – and to begin using effective interventions for treating the problematic symptoms a person is experiencing. Don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need. Please call Alta Loma today – and you’ll be surrounded by a healthcare team who truly cares about your recovery. 866-457-3843