Any way you look at it, addiction is hard.
It’s hard on your career.
It’s hard on your goals and aspirations.
It’s hard on your finances.
It’s hard on your friendships.
It’s hard on your family.
It’s hard on your body.
It’s hard on your emotional stability.
It’s hard on your mind.
But none of this is ground breaking news to you. Whether you’ve lived this life for six months or 10+ years, there are harsh realities of drug addiction. You might be thinking, I need to make a change.
Understandably, the detox and recovery process may overwhelm you. You know that you’re a fundamentally different person than before your addiction started. You think, how much damage has my opioid addiction done to my brain? Is it even possible to return to the person I once was? How hard is it to withdraw and remain sober?
For as hard as your addition is, detoxification and your return to sobriety will be its own arduous task – for the mere fact that the drugs you consumed for so long significantly altered your brain’s chemistry.
Yes, addiction is hard. Recovery is hard. But, remaining a prisoner to your addiction is by far the hardest.
If you want to get clean and live the life you were always meant to lead, it’s beneficial to understand the effects of opioids on the brain and how the brain recovers from opioid addiction.
Opioids and the Brain: How Addiction Happens
Opioid addiction can sneak up on someone, and fast. Especially individuals who innocently start using opioids to manage chronic pain or severe discomfort after an injury or surgery.
Nevertheless, opioids are highly addictive pain medications. The longer opioids are consumed, the brain begins to build a tolerance.
A drug tolerance is when the mind requires a higher dose of the opioid substance to experience the necessary pain relief.
As tolerance levels rise, the risk of addiction increases significantly. Once an individual is addicted to opioids, a dangerous and seemingly never-ending cycle ensues due in large part to how opioids interact with receptors in the brain.
Opioids and Receptors
- Opioids attach to opioid receptors in the brain and signal an extreme release of dopamine. This is an important neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure system.
- When the excessive amount of dopamine is released, the brain’s reward system is flooded. This produces a very powerful, euphoric high that blocks pain and calms the body.
- The brain begins to link pain pills with a pleasurable or rewarding act and instinctually wants to repeat the action over and over.
- An opioid addiction begins and tolerance builds.
To thoroughly understand how opioids and the brain interact to form an addiction, be sure to read our article: How Opioid Addiction Affects the Mind.
Opioids and the Brain: How the Brain Recovers After Addiction
Like all aspects of recovery, the brain’s journey back to full health takes time, effort and patience. Your addiction ripped your life apart and it’s a process to build your entire life back up – starting with how your brain functions and communicates with the rest of your body.
Opioid detoxification varies from person-to-person and the severity of withdrawal symptoms mainly depends on how much and how long you took the drugs.
Because opioids artificially impact the brain’s ability to manufacture dopamine, ceasing all drug use essentially forces the bottom to drop out of the brain’s pleasure center. This can lead to extreme emotional instability, excessive cravings and a plethora of other undesired symptoms, including:
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle aches
- Increased heart rate
- Stomach cramps
- Much more
After fighting through the initial phases of detoxification, the brain must relearn how to make a naturally occurring amount of dopamine and work to reestablish neural synapsis that control everything from motor skills to emotional modulation.
How to Repair Your Brain After Opioid Addiction
Withdrawing from opioids can be unbearable and very dangerous, but with the right support and outlets, long-term sobriety can be achieved.
- Detox at an established addiction treatment and recovery facility.
Opioid detoxification treatment at a recovery and rehab facility is by far the safest
route. The withdrawal process is unpleasant and can result in paranoia, high blood pressure, organ or respiratory failure and relapse. In extreme cases, death can occur. For this reason, a medically supervised opioid detox is crucial to ensure you receive individualized care and proper medical treatment. Additionally, entering an inpatient treatment program can force you to leave negative influences and temptations that are prominent addiction triggers.
- Enter therapy.
During and after addiction treatment, therapy – specifically cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation and pastoral counseling – can help you identify destructive thought patterns, improve impulse control and explore the soul and spirit. Overall, therapy can positively improve the brain’s communication system and functions.
- Eat right.
Paying better attention to what you put in your body is what started your recovery process. Continuing with that trend, it is beneficial to your recovery and overall health to improve your diet. Be mindful of the type of foods you’re consuming and keep your body well hydrated.
- Get active.
Imperative to both your physical and mental health, exercise is a must to help the brain fully recover from opioid addiction. In essence, exercise is the tool that helps the brain relearn how to release natural endorphins. Exercise will improve sleep, concentration and mood, and reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Getting in touch with your spiritual side can have a divine effect on your recovery and sober life after addiction. Praying does not have to be formal, but it can help you keep your mind clear, focused and positive. It can also help you repair your relationship with God.
Opioid Drug Treatment at Covenant Hills: A Safe Place to Surrender
Undoing the damage of opioid addiction can be messy, extremely uncomfortable and some of the hardest work you do in your life. But in order to have a life worth living, your addiction must end.
Your mind, body and soul need significant attention and care during opioid addiction detox and treatment. At Covenant Hills, it is our supreme mission to return you to the clean, healthy and productive person God designed you to be. Through our faith-based opioid treatment programs, your whole person health will be given individualized attention. Your spiritual journey – whatever that may look like for you – will be supported.