Now that you are sober and are no longer under the influence of drugs and alcohol, you might wonder why you continue to feel unhappy. Your emotional struggles may even make you second-guess whether sobriety is worth it.
While there is no quick fix to train yourself to be happy, understand that, after years of substance use, your brain has learned that substances make it feel happy. Also, feelings of sadness and even depression are common effects of substance use withdrawal. Brighter days certain are ahead for you, so this is a time you need to trust the process and press forward.
Are Artificial Stimuli From Substances Harmful?
Your brain has a pleasure center where a chemical called dopamine is released when you engage in certain activities that cause you to experience pleasure or happiness. Ordinary and healthy activities such as eating good food, spending time with loved ones, and exercising can reward the brain with sensations of pleasure.
However, when drugs and alcohol are introduced into your system, your brain’s reward circuitry becomes hijacked by these artificial stimuli. You may feel a rush of pleasure because these substances rapidly cause a large release of dopamine. Your senses get artificially heightened to such an extent that activities that used to bring you joy may no longer do so. This is because your brain is now used to a much higher dose of dopamine from drug or alcohol use than normal pleasurable activities cause.
Drugs interfere with your neurons’ ability to send, receive, and process communication with neurotransmitters. Some drugs overly activate neurons. Other drugs increase or decrease the number of neurotransmitters produced, either flooding or starving your brain’s communication systems.
Because of the brain’s neuroplasticity, substance dependency may alter its chemical and neurological structures, causing various degrees of damage. Brain areas in charge of pleasure circuitry (such as the pre-frontal cortex) are also the same parts that regulate emotions. Since substances have disrupted the pleasure centers of your brain, they consequently disrupt emotional regulation, which can cause mental health problems like depression or anxiety even long after you’ve achieved sobriety.
How Can the Brain Heal From Addiction?
After detoxification, the brain has the amazing power to heal itself. The brain heals from addiction by rebuilding your natural neurological structures without the presence of substances. The same magic of neuroplasticity is happening here, though it often takes a long time. This does not mean that you simply wait around for full brain recovery to happen. There are things you can do to help your brain relearn how to find satisfaction and enjoyment in simple things.
Recovery experts emphasize that addiction is a treatable brain disease. They have developed many effective methods to help the brain navigate and expedite the healing process. Various therapeutic methods help your brain unlearn the expectation of pleasure that comes from substances and relearn enjoyment in normal activities.
For example, amino acid infusion has been found effective for brain healing. Because substance use disorders cause an imbalance of neurotransmitters, an amino acid infusion can help to restore this balance, restoring the brain to its normal state at a faster rate than simply changing your diet or engaging in therapy. This can also help reduce cravings and alleviate the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.
One method of accelerating recovery is by detoxing with intravenous amino acid therapy, which includes a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals injected into the bloodstream. They travel to the brain where they work to balance neurotransmitters quickly. Intravenous amino acid therapy is typically completed in ten days.
Other therapeutic methods for re-training your brain to feel pleasure include psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT), experiential therapy, and much more. These types of therapy focus on helping you create new thought patterns and determine better actions to take to improve how your brain functions from the outside in.
How Can You Train the Brain to Feel Happy Again?
Apart from these ongoing therapies, you can also implement healthy self-care habits to help the brain heal. For example, you can practice gratitude which helps sustain an optimistic mindset. Gratitude can also help you break from negative thought patterns that often contribute to depression.
When you feel unhappy, distract yourself by doing sober activities you used to love. Surround yourself with friends you can trust, and enjoy their company. Basic things such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, getting out in nature, and exercising are also beneficial for the brain. Practicing mindfulness has been proven effective in healing the brain.
People living with addiction tend to suffer from low self-esteem, as they may start to believe they don’t deserve to be happy and healthy due to experiencing effects of depression and anxiety. Through various therapeutic and self-care practices, you can re-train your brain to feel happy again after addiction.
Do you know how to help your brain heal better from addiction? Are you looking for a recovery center that utilizes cutting-edge neuroscience research to help heal your brain? These aspirations can put you on the right track. If you want to work with recovery specialists to rebuild a healthy lifestyle and surround yourself with positive people and relationships, Laguna Shores Recovery’s residential facility is the best place to be. Our team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can coach and counsel you on regaining positivity in life. Most of our staff has been in recovery themselves, so we understand the pains and struggles. We offer a variety of therapeutic modalities to help you heal. Our full medical residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, and 12-Step programs. Early intervention is key. Act now and call us at (866) 906-3203.