The Impact of Addiction on the Brain

The Impact of Addiction on the Brain

Addiction can impact the brain and body in a variety of ways. People in Dayton and many other parts of the U.S. struggle with addictions to alcohol, drugs, other substances – or to activities such as pornography.

The brain tells your body whether to engage in certain activities, consume certain substances, or make specific choices. Let’s consider why addiction has such a huge impact on the brain.

The Science – Activities and Hormones

When we do things that we enjoy, certain hormones are released, which cause us to feel good. For example, endorphins are released when we exercise, eat, or make love. Dopamine is another “feel-good” hormone and is strongly connected to the brain’s reward system. This means that anything which increases dopamine is likely to make us want more of it.

How Does the Brain Develop and React to Addiction?

Drugs and alcohol cause dramatic changes to the brain’s reward system. They affect the brain much more than natural rewards, such as exercise or social interactions. Therefore, the brain adapts to minimize this overstimulation. However, then it requires more of the substance to achieve the same desired result or “high.” This is called “tolerance.” Over time, judgment, decision-making, learning, and memory begin to physically change. Drug-seeking behavior becomes driven by habit – almost a reflex. The user has become addicted. Intense cravings, brain cell damage, and longer lasting damage can be the result. If untreated, addiction can cause disability and premature death.

What are the Causes of Addiction?

To understand more about addiction and its impact on the brain and body, it’s important to understand some of the underlying causes. Here are some of the main reasons why people end up suffering from addictions.

  • History of addiction in the family:  Studies show that 50% or more of addiction can be genetically predisposed. When people – particularly children and young adults – see certain behaviors, they are more likely to copy them.
  • Social pressure: Other people become addicted as a result of social pressures to engage in a particular activity. Due to the impact of addiction on the brain, it is difficult to change behaviors later on.
  • Starting early: People who start taking substances or engaging in addictive activities at a younger age are more likely to develop an addiction. By starting early, it is more difficult to drop certain habits later on in life and can have a different – and deeper – impact on the brain.

How to Take Steps to Overcome Addiction

Overcoming an addiction isn’t easy. It requires commitment, support, and willpower. Here are some of the key things to remember if you or someone you know is trying to overcome an addiction.

  • It takes time: Look at the bigger picture and consider a long-term approach. Addictions don’t develop overnight, and they’re almost impossible to overcome in a day or two. Start by recognizing and acknowledging that it will be a long process. Each day may bring different challenges. Be patient.
  • Find support: Getting the right support is critical when overcoming an addiction. Working with professionals when necessary and looking for people who understand the struggles of addiction can be paramount to recovery.
  • Be kind and gentle: Whether you’re in recovery yourself or you’re supporting a loved one to overcome an addiction, be kind and supportive throughout the process.

Getting Help with Addiction

If you’re looking for help with addiction or other life challenges in Dayton, consider reaching out to Mission Addiction. This unique group has the experience and supports people from all walks of life to overcome their challenges – physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. The MAP For Healing & Recovery program seriesweekly support group, and/or coaching and mentoring service can help you work through all your issues – in person or online, nationwide.

Copyright © 2022, Edward Livesay, Mission Addiction

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