How Does the Brain Heal After Recovery?

Drugs and alcohol affect the brain’s neurological pathways. Further, addiction is considered a brain disease. Like injury done by other chronic diseases, the physiological damage of the brain by substance addiction is indisputable. Therefore, you might wonder, can it be cured? The good news is, yes. 

Neuroplasticity allows the brain to reorganize synaptic connections and promote healing within. You might wonder, how? That is a much more complicated question. In short, the human brain recovers from addiction, similar to how it recovers from other chronic diseases. Understanding how the brain heals after recovery from addiction is an essential part of self-care. This knowledge may also assist you in working better with health professionals.

How Does the Brain Adapt?

You have to remember that our brain, like many other parts of the human body, is very adaptable. Its billions of neurons and thousands of neural pathways develop in response to the immediate chemical environment. Although a human brain usually develops most of the pathways by age twenty-five, the brain still has some plasticity to adapt. It also helps shed light on why substance use at an earlier age is harder to overcome. Neuroplasticity is also a part of why substance use can alter the chemicals within the brain’s structures.

Your Brain During Detox

Once you enter into detox treatment, your brain begins to adapt to the absence of drugs and alcohol actively. It will take some time for that adaptation to become the norm. Scientists have used imaging technology to measure the post-recovery functioning of the brain. They are able to show that the brain’s activity can increase to normal levels at around 14 months after treatment. 

One study shows that after months of sobriety, the dopamine levels in the brain’s reward region return to normal functioning. Upon continued treatment and therapy, your brain begins to look quite similar to a healthy brain where no substance use is present. It occurs as a result of the brain’s self-repair processes. It is a remarkable unlearning process that involves the decreased dependency on specific chemicals and the shifting of brain structures. Therefore, the brain is capable of making breakthroughs to stabilize and balance itself. Although the risk for addiction never magically disappears, the brain gradually adjusts to a pre-addiction baseline mode.

How Long Does It Take?

Depending on the severity of your addiction, age and duration of exposure, and individual physiological differences, this healing process might take weeks or months. First, detox alone can take from several days to weeks. Usually, within one week or so after finishing the detox, the brain will begin replenishing its lost grey matter. From there, it may take several months for other areas of the brain and the white matter in the prefrontal cortex to heal. 

Depending on the substance and duration of use, the level of dopamine in the brain will recover. Many estimate at least ninety days for dopamine recovery. But some drugs may have permanently damaged some of the brain’s receptors to reabsorb natural dopamine, which will likely prolong the healing process.

Environmental Factors

The speed of your brain’s recovery also depends on some other environmental factors. Just like recovery from addiction is not a one-time success, the brain’s recovery also needs after-care treatment. You need ongoing support for an extended period of time to avoid relapse. 

Peer support groups such as 12-Step programs along with the help of trained clinicians also make a difference in how long this healing process will take. You want to pool all positive resources, but you also want to be patient with slow but steady brain recovery. After all, it is your body’s most delicate organ, so expect the journey to require time, discipline, support, and patience.

What Should I Do to Help Facilitate The Healing Process?

Your actions always matter. Understand that for your brain to rebuild its neurological pathways; you need to adopt healthier habits and routines. For example, relaxation techniques such as yoga or breathwork help boost brain health. Studies also show that treatment plans that incorporate mindfulness and meditation practices can effectively lessen the risk of relapse. It happens because these activities help restore brain pathways. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another effective therapy that helps cultivate healthy ways of thinking and life routines.

Although the brain’s recovery from substance use is still in its infancy, scientists are optimistic that the neurotoxic effects of certain substances such as alcohol and marijuana in the brain can be reversed. Addiction is just one of the challenges in brain recovery. It is bound to be an organic process where your commitment is the key to success.

At Laguna Shores Recovery, we use a research-based approach to help you understand, manage, and overcome substance abuse – starting with the brain. In addition to our scientific models, we also provide conventional and alternative treatments and therapies. Our goal is to provide the best care that meets your individual needs. The care that you will relieve here also ensures that you will be in an environment that promotes comfort, security, and inspiration. Once you complete treatment, we offer ongoing support programs, including 12-Step programs, transitional living, and medical treatment plans. With 24/7 admissions, the opportunity for help is always here when you need it. Therefore, if you are currently struggling to overcome your addiction, then the time to seek help is today. Our experienced staff will work to help you design a tailor-made treatment plan. Find out more and call us at Laguna Shores Recovery today at (866) 906-3203.