Retraining Your Brain for Lasting Recovery
If you have developed a drug or alcohol addiction, you likely already know how challenging it can be to get sober and stay that way for the rest of your life. However, just because the task in front of you may be daunting, that doesn’t mean it is insurmountable. Recent discoveries about how the brain heals itself have shown tremendous potential in addiction recovery.
What Is Neuroplasticity?
For many years, scientists believed the brain was unchangeable, and that it could never repair itself if it experienced damage to its cells. However, as our ability to take images of the brain improved by leaps and bounds, we have learned that damaged brains actively work to heal themselves by forming new pathways. This concept is called neuroplasticity, and it has profound implications for addicted individuals.
In studying brain scans, scientists have found the brain is highly adaptable and moldable, able to reorganize its patterns. Researchers now know addiction is fundamentally a disease of neuroplasticity. One way to think of this is that when you develop a habit, your brain forms a related pathway. So, for example, if you get high every night, you are essentially training your brain to expect that regular reward. Every time you use drugs, the pathway becomes a little bit stronger until that habit is the most important priority in your life.
How to Take Advantage of Neuroplasticity in Addiction Treatment
One of the things that makes addiction so insidious is the gradual way it can take over your life. When you use drugs or alcohol, they have a direct effect on the pleasure center of your brain, which is how addiction fundamentally changes your brain’s chemistry. Eventually, most addicts reach a point where they view their substance of choice as their only source of pleasure.
Though it is easy to look at the negative side of habit-forming behavior, one of the benefits you can expect to encounter in addiction recovery is that you will retrain your brain by teaching it new, positive habits that support your sobriety. Through group and holistic therapies, you can begin to form new associations between healthy sober activities and enjoying yourself.
Developing Better Brain Health
Addiction recovery is a long journey, and your results will not happen immediately. But knowing you can improve the damage drugs and alcohol have done to your brain is a first step.
Here are some things you can do to strengthen brain health as you recover:
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh produce, fiber, complex carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid processed foods, which tend to have added sugar and fat.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, and try to keep your caffeine consumption to a minimum.
- Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. Find an exercise routine you enjoy, so you will be more likely to stick with it.
- Aim for seven to nine hours of restful sleep per night. Set a consistent sleep schedule, so you go to bed and wake up at the same times every day. If you have trouble winding down, learn healthy ways to de-stress before bedtime.
Call for Immediate Help
Seabrook offers a full continuum of care for people in substance addiction recovery. Our accredited New Jersey treatment facility provides a comfortable, homelike environment that allows men and women to go through a phased approach to drug and alcohol rehab and learn effective relapse prevention strategies that help them become more well-rounded individuals. Our admissions specialists are ready to hear from you. Reach out to us to get the care you need.