What is addiction?
A chronic disease, addiction is compulsive and uncontrollable behavior around an action or substance. Repeated use of the substance or action results in changes in the brain that interfere with the person’s ability to resist urges to use, even though the first decision to use is often voluntary. Those in recovery are at a higher risk for relapse, even after years of abstinence, due to how persistent these brain changes can be.
How does addiction affect the body?
The brain has a reward system that addictive behaviors and substances affect over time. With each repeated use, dopamine floods the brain, leading to feelings of pleasure. Normally, dopamine allows the brain to feel pleasure for healthy activities, such as enjoying time with family and friends or eating. Addiction disrupts this “reward circuit.” The brain makes less dopamine and/or the cells respond to it less, which is called tolerance. The high isn’t as powerful, but motivation for it increases, creating a vicious cycle of repeated use to achieve the same high. Those who experience this often see a decline in enjoyment for other activities.
What are long-term effects of addiction?
Addiction can cause harmful outcomes and changes in other brain chemical systems, but people who use substances or engage in unhealthy behaviors continue to do so. Some functions that are affected by long-term use include the following:
Treatment for those with addiction should be ongoing because the risk of relapse is so high. Therapy plans should be adjusted based on client progress, reviewed often and modified as the client’s needs change.
A certified addiction counselor can help with addictions and substance abuse.
Recovery can be one of the most challenging seasons of your life, but it also comes with the reward of living a productive and successful life. At Lifestance Health, our experienced and knowledgeable counselors can create a plan for taking back your life with sobriety. We accept many major insurance plans.
Contact us to make an appointment. We offer convenient weekday, evening and weekend appointments. We are waiting to help you take your first steps toward recovery.