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How Drug Use Changes Your Brain

Dec 15, 2020

Evidence shows us continued drug use affects the brain in many ways, and getting into treatment early enough can save the brain. Drug use can affect the brain in short-term ways, some which can be reversed. But, chronic drug and alcohol misuse can create more significant brain issues. Today, let’s discuss what parts of the brain are affected by drug use, what factors contribute to more serious brain issues, how different drugs affect the brain, and one approach to regulating brain function you can learn while in treatment at Headwaters at Origins. 

Drug use can affect the brain in a wide variety of ways.

One instant change is a feeling of euphoria. Unfortunately, using drugs regularly or overdosing can cause serious damage to the brain. Using marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other substances can lead to neurological problems. These neurological problems can include stroke, seizures, dementia, and more. Getting treatment for substance use is recommended. Treatment for drug use at an accredited facility, such as Headwaters at Origins, may be able to begin reversing the damage in some cases or reduce the impact of drug use on the brain. In a residential program, patients can learn how staying sober can improve their brain function.

We understand what parts of the brain are affected by drug use.

The relationship of addiction and the brain is well-documented. The psychiatrists, physicians, and brain recovery specialists at Headwaters possess a clear understanding of how drug use adversely affects specific parts of the brain. Our treatment team routinely sees patients with frontal lobe damage that’s altered their impulse control and made them more susceptible to frequent drug or alcohol use. We recognize changes to the cerebellum, which affects motor coordination and ability to learn simple tasks. We understand how drug use affects reasoning and emotional memory recall in the hippocampus. We recognize how drug use can damage the cerebral cortex and subcortical areas. We treat patients whose drug use has altered the brain’s ability to get messages about temperature and sensory experiences through the thalamus. We understand how drug use produces changes to the limbic system’s ability and its work with emotions, motivation, and memory. We recognize how damage to the hypothalamus affects its ability to regulate emotional responses and control appetite.

Alcohol and other drugs can cause neurological problems.

The team at Headwaters provides expertise in treating patients with a history of using marijuana, cocaine, heroin, prescription opioids, methamphetamine, LSD, and other substances. We understand how continuously using any of these drugs can lead to neurological issues. The neurological disorders caused by extensive drug use include stroke, seizures, dementia, and more. The level of impact can be mild to severe. A mild impact may be reversible. More severe damage can mean the risk of permanent damage to areas of the brain.

Different drugs, including alcohol, affect the brain in different ways.

The experts at Headwaters recognize the differences in each drug’s impact on the brain and can identify if damage is expected to be permanent or if it’s considered temporary. Opioid use can deprive the brain of necessary oxygen. A loss of oxygen to the brain can lead to the death of brain cells or coma. Both a one-time overdose or years of regular drug use can put someone at risk of suffering damage to the brain. For example, the brain’s vital receptor cells can be destroyed by regular use of cocaine and methamphetamine. Using hallucinogens can lead to perception disorders. Users may experience flashbacks, echoes, and visual distortion long after they stopped using those types of drugs. Effective mental health treatment can help the brain repair these cells and restore health. 

Neurofeedback Treatment for mental health and substance use is key.

Neurofeedback is one example of an intervention used in cases of substance use where impact on the brain is measurable. Neurofeedback treatment for addiction at Headwaters involves using electrodes attached to a patient’s scalp to monitor brain wave information. The purpose of neurofeedback is to give a patient an awareness of how their brain works and practice controlling the brain through a series of activities. 

HeadWaters at Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844-439-2837.

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