brain healing

Will I Ever Feel Normal? Healing Your Brain After Drug Addiction


Drug Addiction: The word “addiction” comes from a Latin term that means “bound to” or “enslaved.”
If you or someone you love has struggled to overcome drug addiction, you understand this concept.

In active drug addiction, I not only felt painfully helpless against this monster that had awakened inside of me, but the more I learned about the repercussions, the more I began to feel like it was a life sentence, even if I broke free. 

Some medical research websites told me that my brain had been permanently damaged with no hope in sight. “So, I’ll be sober, but mentally altered…forever?” This was not an option for me. If this was true, and the very structure of my brain was permanently damaged, I might as well give up. This may not be how you view this kind of information, but it most definitely is how I saw things.

First of all, I did not want to go from one drug dependence to another, so for me, Suboxone maintenance or something of that nature was not an option. If I was going to break free I wanted to be all the way free…and I wanted to be able to heal and recover what was lost.

People said I’d have wet brain. Research showed I’d feel “raw” and possibly live in a state of permanently depleted dopamine and serotonin levels. So, in regular terminology, I wouldn’t be able to really be happy, because I had damaged the part of my brain that produces happy, feel good neurotransmitters. Again, not a pleasant outcome in my opinion.
But there is hope, even beyond the damage…keep reading.

How to Repair Your Brain After Drug Addiction

Thankfully, I’ve worked with some really good people during the process of my recovery and I’ve learned how to slowly yet methodically turn around or “undo” the damage caused by addiction. Working with the team of professionals at Gracious Care Recovery Solutions has tremendously helped me to understand what I’ve been doing and why it’s working. They are more than just a drug rehab. Gracious Care staff is concerned about your “whole self,” mind, body and spirit. The road to true healing and recovery has to be paved with a plan that includes an obsession-free life. This means your life in recovery has to be BETTER than the high or euphoric effect of the drugs you were taking.

Is that really possible?

Here is the path I followed to repair my brain after ten years of active alcohol and drug addiction:

Undoing the Damage of Drug Addiction

So, what exactly are the secrets to healing your brain during addiction recovery?

#1- Therapy – Inpatient Treatment

Therapy can help you get to the root problem that started you on the path to addiction, plus offer healing for all of the layers of problems connected to that root. For many, addiction began as a way of self-medicating other issues, like bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression. For others, it’s a way to escape from the fragments of pain and memories attached to past trauma. Others begin using drugs because they consider it to be normal after seeing a family member use them. Incidentally, childhood exposure to drug use is also considered to be traumatic.

Inpatient treatment, or PHP, offers a safe, supportive environment where you can face the issues at your own pace, no matter how difficult, and begin to experience healing.

#2- Active Forgiveness

When we think of forgiveness, we often think about forgiving others. While this is one hundred percent true, the most important person you have to forgive during addiction recovery is yourself. During addiction, you may have done things you’re ashamed of or said things you regret. In order to move on and truly heal, you have to forgive yourself. Acknowledge your wrongdoing, apologize and cancel the debt. Move on and don’t punish yourself any more. Studies show that doing so can awaken and heal specific parts of the brain.

After we forgive ourselves and experience healing, forgiving others becomes a natural byproduct. We naturally want to extend to others the very things we are experiencing. My past is marked with sexual abuse and neglect, but it’s as if all of that happened to another person. It is worlds away from me now.

This kind of forgiveness doesn’t come naturally, which is another reason to consider inpatient treatment. Being in a safe, supportive environment surrounded by professionals helped me to experience the type of inner healing that may take years of weekly sessions. I am a big fan of total immersion in recovery, and I received that during inpatient treatment.

#3- Nutrition

Alcohol consumption and drug use is generally connected to nutritional deficiencies. A lack of nutrients and the sugar heavy diets common to many individuals struggling with addiction can greatly affect your mood, cognitive ability, motivation, and mental clarity. When you’re in recovery, the right food choices are essential to brain healing.

At Gracious Care Recovery Solutions, each client will have sessions with a personal nutritionist to help identify these deficiencies and put each person on their own personalized path of wellness.

For me, I had to cut out sugar completely for almost six months. In the brain, sugar is proven to cause the same effects as cocaine and can greatly increase your chance of a relapse. Sugar is not only highly addictive, but it also helps foster irrational thought patterns, afternoon brain-fog, and irritability.

#4- Exercise

During recovery, your brain may not be able to produce positive hormones like endorphins on its own. It’s been trained to respond to drugs or alcohol. As a result, it’s very easy for depression and anxiety to kick in, which also heightens cravings. To combat this and help your brain recover, exercise is important. This will not only help your brain release endorphins so you feel better but will also help detox your body and brain.

Gracious Care Recovery Solutions provides clients with opportunities to exercise both indoors and out. Clients regularly play basketball, have beach outings, mornings or evenings at the gym, yoga sessions, and participate in Saturday fitness groups.

#5- Prayer

Prayer works. In fact, studies have shown the impact of prayer on healing the body. Relying on your Creator to help you with your recovery is one of the smartest choices you can make. We have to heal on every level; mind, body and spirit. The spiritual part can’t be ignored.

Those are just five things that are helpful to a healthy, happy state of mind. Of them, I would say the most important is your relationship with God. On top of these, I have found that, being creative, writing, listening to positive music, having a life purpose beyond yourself and even owning and caring for a pet all contribute to a healthy happy state of mind.

Brain Mapping – Neurotherapy

Is your brain actually in need of repair?
If so, how extensive is the damage and what type of therapy will be most beneficial?

Gracious Care Recovery Solutions offers brain mapping, a type of neurotherapy used to identify specific damage that may have occurred during drug use, alcoholism, traumatic brain injury (TBI) or stroke.

Dr. Cicetti, Gracious Care Recovery Solution’s neurotherapist, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor. Her focus is on comprehensive treatment including brain mapping, neurostimulation techniques, & LORETA neurofeedback. She has extensive experience working with TBI, stroke, post-concussion, sleep disorders and substance abuse disorders.

Brain mapping is a vital part of the GCRS program. It has been especially valuable when treating active duty and retired military who have experienced traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain mapping has provided the insight necessary to develop a highly individualized treatment plan for many of the clients and has been a contributing factor in long term recovery.

Start your recovery process with a foundation of healing that can be found at Gracious Care Recovery Solutions. Individuals who attend a minimum of 30-day treatment program are 50 percent more likely to avoid relapse.

For immediate help 24/7 – Call 855-923-3733

This article was written by Robin Bright, a person in long term recovery, an author, mom and recovery advocate.

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