“Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing, brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.”
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
At Malibu Rehab, we are deeply committed to treating you or your loved ones for addiction and any co-occurring disorders. We understand the brain chemistry, and how it changes both structurally and functionally as a result of alcohol or drug abuse. Addiction is characterized by building up of tolerance, dependence, cravings and loss of control. Addiction cannot be cured but it can be controlled.
While the initial choice to start taking drugs is usually voluntary, your brain begins to change over time, affecting your self-control, and ability to resist the intense impulses to continue using. If you take heroin, cocaine, marijuana or other mind-altering substances, the chemicals in these drugs literally alter your brain, specifically the chemical messengers called neurotransmitters that trigger dopamine.
If you are addicted, the sequence of using drugs and achieving the subsequent high creates a reinforcing pattern in your brain to repeat the rewarding behavior of continued substance use. The brain begins to adapt to overwhelming surges in dopamine by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of dopamine receptors in the reward circuit. This causes you to continue using larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same dopamine effect, essentially building tolerance.
Physical urges or compulsions caused by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain are called cravings. Dopamine plays an important role in reward motivated-behavior, and is associated with emotional response, pleasure, or pain. Cravings can be overwhelming, compelling you to act, and are difficult to manage until they develop techniques to avoid them. Managing triggers and cravings is key to avoiding relapse.
Anything that the addicted brain associates with the reward of getting “high” can be considered a trigger. It could be stressful situations at work or with family, it could be a location, a specific bar or friend’s house where you might have used drugs, or maybe the onset of depression or anxiety. Triggers may lead to substantial cravings. Also common are cross-relapses from one drug to another such as taking pain medication for back issues, which can trigger a previous heroin addiction.
Addiction is not a choice, it’s a disease. Some drug users don’t even see the consequences of the behavior, known as “denial” which can make seeking treatment challenging. Since addiction actually changes the brain’s chemistry, certain physical and mental responses can continue after becoming sober, sending an addict spiraling back to previous and destructive behaviors.
At Malibu Rehab, we use treatment modalities and therapies that are clinically proven to help with addiction recovery and prevent relapses. We provide addiction and treatment education for you and for family or friends intended to encourage a continuing path towards recovery by highlighting how the benefits of being addiction free outweigh the consequences of addiction.
We’re so glad you’re here. Contact us today, and we can tell you everything you’d like to know.
Your questions and any information you provide will be kept confidential. Get in touch, schedule a tour, and when you’re ready, reserve a room at Malibu Rehab Center.