Consider the way the Brain adapts and changes under the influence of Drugs; How it changes to become an Addictive Habit and How Treatment can be effective.
“Drug Abuse to Addiction- Information and Treatment” is the First Part of a Two Part Article.
Part Two looks at Self- Help Tips that may help in combating temptation.
Your Brain is You.
Every thought, action, love, fear and experience you have ever felt has been designed, programmed and executed through the activity of this 3- pound/ 6 kilo Information Processing Centre mass of grey matter.
Your phone and computer are controlled by incredibly complex
electrical circuits, that complete the tasks they are designed for, in order to
produce a result.
Your brain in comparison, makes the most intricate and complex supercomputer look like a tomato with a stick.
Billions of switches (neurons) control the flow of information. Switches are connected to other switches in organised arrangements (circuits) and signal each other as directed by need, desire, process and habit to send information back and forwards.
They can send messages along via interconnecting circuits and networks, in a millisecond.
A switch releases a neurotransmitter (key) into the void
(synapses) between it and the cell it’s passing information to.
The key is received by this switch and consequently, the form of the receiving switch changes to accommodate the input.
Transporters (who have the job of returning the key to the switch it came from) can control the signal exchange.
No key- No transportation of Information.
Working as a multi- billion team of synchronised workers in a factory, they all perform their specific duties with coordination. Information is relayed back and forwards, ensuring we live the life we choose, within the natural boundaries.
What do Drugs do to the Brain?
Drugs interfere with the actions of Switches and
Some drugs pretend to be Transporters and move keys between switches, activating an abnormal message that is sent through the network. Because these Pretenders are unnatural and improper, they’re action results in the relay of Scrambled information.
Other drugs cause the switches to release more keys than they should, sending wrong and amplified messages into the network. This causes chaos in the system.
The Basal Ganglia
This part of the Brain has the specific task of sorting
information in relation to movement and figuring out what the best response is…
‘which hand should I use to catch this ball? How much effort should I exert
to jump this puddle?’
It processes the information required to do the task, stores that information for later use and fine tunes it for successful delivery, as every situation demands.
It also plays an important part in Pleasure, establishing routine and forming habits.
This Pleasure Zone (socialising with good friends, sex, fun activities) is on the Reward Circuit.
Do an Action- Receive Pleasure/ Reward- Form a Habit- Establish a Routine.
Drugs over- excite this circuit.
Normal Pleasure and Reward is replaced by Extra Ordinary Pleasure and Extreme Reward.
It feels really good.
But not for long.
The Circuit changes its’ form, adapting to the over- excitement and diminishing it’s sensitivity to the point where Pleasure, natural pleasure is unavailable.
Pleasure can only be had with Drug Stimulation.
The Extended Amygdala
Anxiety, Unease, Fear; this circuit plays this role to move us away from harm,
even perceived harm (like mistaking a garden hose for a snake and reacting).
It also plays a role in interpreting intentions… reading body language, facial expressions and verbal prompts.
Drug abuse affect this circuit. Emotional feeling and connection can be impaired. Reason and Empathy, distorted. Eye contact avoided.
This affects normal relationships and can lead to a life of Instant Gratification, regardless of how others may be impacted.
The Prefrontal Cortex
This powers our ability to plan, solve problems, make decisions, think and control impulses reactions.
Drug abuse affects this circuit, the interconnected network and in some cases, results in severe impairment that may never be repaired. In fact, such impairment can cause someone with such problems to seek and use drugs with a reduced ability to control the impulse and without concern for the consequences to themselves or others.
Some drugs can affect areas of the brain like the Brain Stem.
This controls breathing and the rate of our heart beat.
Our brains are Hardwired for Pleasure. Things that make us
feel good are tagged by our Reward Circuitry and Dopamine (a Transporter) files
that Happy Feeling away within easy access, so that when we want to experience
that Pleasurable feeling again, it’s right on top of the pile.
Naturally, our body produces the ‘High’ we experience through good social interactions, fun activity and creative pursuits with the natural release of endorphins (an opioid) and other stimuli.
That’s why we repeat the things we enjoy. We develop a process to go about attaining it and this creates the habit that sustains the Pleasurable feeling.
Drugs over excite the Pleasure Zone.
Drugs release a greater- than- normal Flood of Dopamine.
The result upon our brain is to connect using the drug with the Pleasurable Reward, regardless of the cost.
What Just Happened?
have adjusted things in the Brain.
Drug use minimises the switches store of ‘keys’. They have less keys to unlock happiness, love, fun, social interaction, empathy. Pleasure,
The Switches that have the task of receiving the keys is also reduced, so less of the signals to show love, to show concern, to show contrition and remorse, to feel Pleasure, are available.
Eventually and within a short period of time, the use of Drugs is the only way to have a measure of Pleasure, a touch of empathy.
Without the Drug, Life is Less. Enjoyment is lost. Depression is a Constant.
More drugs are needed to get the High. What was sufficient yesterday, is not enough today.
Q. Giving Up Drugs and Living a Healthy Lifestyle: Is it Possible?
A. Straight Up; it WILL be Hard.
The effects upon the brain and the body is terminal. Even after turning the
situation around and managing to give up Drugs, years later, you may stumble in
False reasoning, stress, loss, old friends, old places and situations… in a minute.
That’s why it’s terminal.
Never mind the physical damage.
Things will never return to how they used to be.
The mind is changed. It thinks different, reacts different, sometimes doesn’t react even when you need it to.
But with proper treatment, you can become YOUR better version.
With the Brain Function now trained to seek the fix drugs alone give, it is critical for you to stop drug use and abuse.
In this respect, learn to recognise the triggers that expose your weaknesses.
Put in place strategies to avoid these triggers but also, to cope with them, should you need to.
EFFECTIVE TREATMENT CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING:
• Counselling and other behavioural therapies are common treatments. Use them.
• Addiction is a treatable disease. You can overcome it.
• Treatment should consider the WHOLE, not just the Drug Addiction.
• Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.
treatment is not a “One Fits All’ strategy.
It must be tailored to fit You.
• You need to have quick access to proper help, whenever you need it.
• Staying in treatment until the completion of your programme, works.
first stage of treatment is only the First.
Stick with the programme to the end.
• Medication combined with behavioural therapy is proven to work. Stay the Course.
• Treatment will consider your Mental health.
That’s good! Healthy Mind, Healthy Body.
CONCLUSION TO PART 1
If you break a Leg, you need a Crutch to get you moving.
It will be Slow. And Painful. It will feel Unnatural.
But in the END, the Good that comes from it will be worth it.
Check out this LINK for SOLID Truth from someone who KNOWS;
and take advantage of the Professional Help that is there.
One Step at a Time…
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