Updated: Mar 2
Let’s talk brain-talk!
Our brains are incredibly complex organs that allow us to think, feel and live (and more!) This three pound muscle is made up of protein, water, salts and mostly fat, but it is the main part of our central nervous system (along with your spinal cord), and controls every function in the body. Amazing, right!
Our brains are made up of gray and white matter, both of which control all the information that we experience daily. The gray matter is responsible for interpreting information, while white matter transmits that information.
Essentially the brain works by sending and receiving chemical and electrical signs within the body, allowing you to live your day to day. But what happens when these signs might be false, or altered in some way?
What happens to our brains during addiction?
The very first thing that happens with the brain when a substance is used, is it creates an intense stimulation of the brain’s reward system. This is also known as the feel good system, therefore leaving your brain wanting more of the substance, ultimately creating the addiction.
During the process of the addiction itself, the addiction will actually reduce the white matter in the brain, which can cause white matter disease. As the white matter deteriorates, our main functions like oxygen control to the brain, decision making, emotional connection and basic human function - also deteriorates. People who are addicted are also prone to more disease, illnesses and other forms of brain damage due to this loss.
As the adverse effects of the white matter continue, the lack of oxygen to the brain will cause damage to the gray matter in the brain. This can cause irreversible damage to the brain, resulting in permanent problems such as loss of motor function, such as writing or walking, difficulties understanding speech, aggressive behavior and memory loss.
While the short term effects of substance abuse can be reversed, the long term effects of the toxicity from the chemical addiction can be permanent, brain disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, paranoia and more, it can also permanently affect concentration, memory and aggression. Not to mention that long term substance abuse has been linked to many physical diseases and death.
What happens to our bodies and brains during recovery?
The short term effects of recovery can be seen within days, although depending on how long a person has been addicted to a substance, recovery can take longer. As a person detoxes from the substance used - often they will feel worse before feeling better. Withdrawal symptoms can include things like extreme cravings for the substance, uncontrollable shaking, extreme body temperature changes, nausea, insomnia, headaches and more. But once the withdrawal symptoms have subsided, the brain will become more clear, a person will start to experience better health, decision making will become easier, the desire to be healthy and stay healthy will become stronger. Ultimately some of the damage done to the brain will start to heal, the mind will become stronger and the damage to the brain and body can be reversed.
Unfortunately, if a person has suffered severe irreversible brain damage most often a medical professional will require to aid this person back to health and medication will need to be prescribed.
Coaching and therapy for healing the brain
Coaching alongside therapy offers a person in need of healing more than understanding their addiction. The therapeutic effects offer a person the potential understanding of why their addiction happened, the effects of their addictions, triggers and how they can stay sober. It offers a safe environment for the person to talk about their darkest moments in addiction.
Coaching offers future guidance for these individuals, to create a plan for healing in all areas of their life, starting with self-love, healing the mind, body and soul and creating a plan, every single day. This connection has been proven to help heal addicts!
If you or a loved one is in need of an addiction therapist and coach, please contact me!