Understanding Addiction: How Does It Develop in Your Brain?
Addiction in relation to alcohol is a brain disorder that causes an unusual drinking urge despite significant harm. The rationale behind this behavior can be attributed to several factors. The most predominant factor is the pleasure hormone. Others include biological and environmental factors.
The Pleasure Hormone
Dopamine (the pleasure hormone) motivates you to seek out pleasurable experiences. It is usually released by the reward center in your brain, which is linked to memory and motivation addiction.
Dopamine also espouses a tolerance urge, such that you feel more need for a particular substance or activity. When you experience a certain sensation, dopamine takes note of:
- What prompted the sensation?
- What substance?
- When did you experience it?
- What else were you doing?
- Who were you with?
Once these environmental cues manifest, you’ll start to feel the drive to seek the same pleasure. This drive is usually powerful and hard to resist.
ALDH2 and ADH1B are identified as “alcoholism genes.” They influence how your body metabolizes alcohol. The science of the “alcoholism gene” explains the likelihood of inheriting AUD from family members.
Mental health history
Alcohol addiction is closely linked to mental health issues. Alcohol abuse is one of the signs and symptoms of depression, anxiety, antisocial behavior, and psychosis. People with such symptoms tend to drink as a way of self-medicating to deal with difficult feelings.
Your social norms, culture, family, or work likely influence your behaviors, including alcohol usage. The level and pattern of alcohol usage are also greater in poorer societies.
How Does Alcohol Addiction Develop in Your Brain?
Alcohol use influences negative and pleasurable feelings. These feelings motivate persistent alcohol usage despite risks to your health and well-being. Studies indicate that drinking to cope with stress or emotional struggles contributes to alcohol addiction. While alcohol may provide temporary relief to your situation, it can cause an unhealthy cycle of alcohol consumption.
If you consistently revert to alcohol use, your brain structure changes. Brain functions move from controlled use to misuse, which makes stopping alcohol consumption difficult and can cause relapse.
When Is It Time for Treatment?
Overcoming alcohol addiction is a process. First, you must recognize that you have a problem and want to quit. This helps you start a conversation around treatment and the support system available to you.
There are many comprehensive programs for alcohol addiction treatment:
The first step to treatment is detoxing: getting alcohol out of your system. This stage comes with withdrawal symptoms relative to the severity of AUD. They may include anxiety, nausea, irritability, headaches, and even shaking.
So, you should detox with appropriate care. After detoxification, you can proceed to other treatments or therapy.
Some people may need intensive rehabilitation for recovery and support. Their alcohol dependence may be severe, or other treatment programs were not successful. Luckily, there are many reputed treatment centers, such as the alcohol rehab at White Sands, that can provide the right treatment options to help addicts get over this problem and lead healthy lives.
Rehab professionals will provide you with all-around care and prepare you for the life after. This care includes information on how to overcome alcoholism triggers, sobriety programs, and steps to take in case of relapse.
Counseling sessions help you communicate and acquire guidance during recovery. You’ll have someone to talk to in difficult and good times. You also get a chance to have someone who’ll help you work through drinking triggers. You’ll be able to work on yourself as you maintain your health inside and out.
After How Long Can You Recover From AUD?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) prolonged heavy drinking damages brain neurons and impedes function. Depending on your level of alcoholism, abstinence may see partial recovery from this damage in months or a year. Your circulatory system may also improve within a year.
As long as you haven’t developed liver cirrhosis, the damage resolves when you start detoxing. According to NIH, your liver cells die each time your body processes alcohol. The liver cells regenerate for mild consumption, but heavy drinking can cause total damage to your liver.
You should entirely abstain from alcohol consumption if your liver is damaged. Healing can take longer depending on damage severity.
Why Wait? Start Your Treatment Right Now
No single treatment for AUD will benefit everyone. Different treatment programs offer different treatment approaches. The ideal step toward recovery from alcohol addiction is seeking help from a provider who will respect and understand you.
Contact a program that will walk with you when you relapse. A comprehensive program that provides personalized help.