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Substance use disorder (SUD) affects all areas of a person’s life and can significantly impact brain chemistry and cognition. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential to reduce the risk of long-term damage to the brain and other body systems. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), “Well-supported scientific evidence shows that disruptions in three areas of the brain are particularly important in the onset, development, and maintenance of substance use disorders: the basal ganglia, the extended amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex.” Lighthouse Recovery Texas offers a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP) to help people heal from SUD and decrease their risk of severe side effects. 

What Are the Connections Between Brain Chemistry and Substance Misuse? 

Substance misuse can inhibit or stimulate specific regions of the brain and affect a person’s ability to function. In some cases, it only takes one instance of substance misuse to produce significant changes in the brain. Some side effects of substance misuse, including hypoxia, can severely impact brain health and potentially lead to permanent brain damage or death. 

Brain chemistry and substance misuse have several possible connections, including: 

  • Abnormal brain chemistry can contribute to the development of addictive behaviors 
  • SUD can cause unhealthy changes to various regions of the brain 
  • Independent conditions may contribute to both changes in brain chemistry and substance misuse 

Substance misuse can affect how various areas of the brain absorb, produce, or transmit chemicals. According to the Surgeon General (SG), “The most severe expression of the disorder, addiction, is associated with changes in the function of brain circuits involved in pleasure (the reward system), learning, stress, decision making, and self-control.” The side effects and symptoms will vary from person to person and exists along a spectrum. 

Does Addiction Always Affect the Brain?  

Addiction is a neuropsychological disorder that can affect a person’s health and quality of life. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.” The brain is always affected in some way by addiction, and it can cause significant changes to behavior and thought patterns. 

Certain substances are more likely to cause widespread neuropsychological issues. The use of the following substances tends to produce the most noticeable changes: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Amphetamines
  • Marijuana
  • Opioids
  • Inhalants

The brain has a remarkable capacity to heal once a person stops misusing substances and adopts a healthier lifestyle. However, addiction always affects the brain in some way, and in many cases, it can cause the development of co-occurring mental health disorders. Treatment is essential to ensure you do not develop additional issues related to substance misuse. 

What Can You Do to Protect Your Brain and Mental Health? 

Early intervention and treatment will reduce the risk of permanent brain damage or long-term mental health issues. In addition, you can also do the following to avoid worsening symptoms of SUD: 

  • Get the recommended amount of quality sleep each night 
  • Manage severe side effects using prescription medication 
  • Eat regular nutritional meals 
  • Stay hydrated and drink the recommended amount of water each day 
  • Prioritize positive social interactions and healthy family dynamics 
  • Practice regular self-care 
  • Maintain personal hygiene 
  • Participate in treatment

In many cases, people have trouble maintaining healthy routines while misusing substances. Often, their physical health and quality of life decline at a quick rate after addictive behaviors become established. You may have trouble prioritizing essential everyday activities or looking after your well-being. Getting help before those habits become routine will help you heal faster.

Available Treatment Options for SUD and Addiction

A lot of treatment options exist for people recovering from SUD. No matter where you are in your recovery, you can find a rehabilitation program that offers the services and support you need to heal. Prescription medications and behavior modification can help reverse changes in the brain caused by substance misuse. Lighthouse Recovery Texas offers the following to ensure our clients have access to personalized treatment that addresses their unique needs:

  • Partial hospitalization 
  • Intensive outpatient
  • Extended care programs

Our treatment plans follow an original approach to care that ensures you get the help you need to heal your mind and body. We also offer sober living housing to men in recovery.

Who Benefits From Medication-Assisted Treatment? 

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is one of the treatment services that can reduce the risk of long-term side effects related to SUD or co-occurring conditions. The people who benefit most from MAT include: 

  • Individuals with severe symptoms 
  • Anyone who has struggled over a long period with severe substance misuse 
  • Individuals diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (AUD), opioid use disorder (OUD), or substance misuse related to painkillers 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative and euphoric effects of the substance used.” Substance misuse affects the brain in many ways, and MAT is only one of the many services available to help you heal. Lighthouse Recovery Texas can give you the tools you need to overcome SUD. 

Even a single instance of substance misuse can have far-reaching health consequences. Some substances can cause severe and potentially permanent changes to the brain over a long period of time. Addictive substances and behaviors inherently cause significant changes to the brain and body. Substance misuse affects the brain’s reward centers, making it difficult for people to abstain without the support of treatment. Lighthouse Recovery Texas offers evidence-based programs and personalized care plans for individuals struggling to heal from the damaging effects of substance misuse. We provide essential support, including medication-assisted treatment, to help people achieve long-term sobriety. To learn more about our services and programs, call us today at (214) 396-0259.