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How Does Addiction Affect the Brain?

Out of all of our body’s organs, the brain is the most complex and the most active. Without the elasticity and adaptability of our powerful brains, we would not be who we are today. Unfortunately, addiction poses a real threat to the proper functioning of the brain. Here are three ways our brains are affected by addiction:

Addiction Changes Natural Brain Chemistry

Addiction alters our brain chemistry by disturbing the neurotransmitters and receptors with over-
stimulation. Dopamine, which controls our pleasure and reward centers in the brain, is the chief
neurotransmitter affected, which can affect daily life tasks.

Addiction Changes Homeostasis

Homeostasis is known as the brain’s “natural balance.” When the brain is repeatedly altered due
to addictive substances, the brain re-balances and creates a “new” balance, called allostasis. The brain then adapts to this unhealthy new configuration and needs the addictive substances to maintain its new balance.

Addiction Changes Communication Structures

Addiction causes new neural pathways in the brain to develop. The brain is incredibly adaptable,
therefore it adapts to toxic substances and craves those properties when they are not present. Addiction impairs decision-making, emotion, compulsivity, memory, impulsivity, reward and stress regulation centers.

The adaptability of the brain is ongoing; therefore, recovery is entirely possible. Although the brain alters itself to accommodate addiction, it can equally accommodate recovery and new coping behaviors. Seeking professional assistance can help your recovery process by providing the necessary coping skills, safe place and education as you heal.

Turning Point of Tampa’s goal is to always provide a safe environment and a solid foundation in 12-Step recovery, in tandem with quality individual therapy and groups. We have been offering Licensed Residential Treatment in Tampa since 1987. If you need help or know someone who does, please contact our admissions department at 813-882-3003, 800-397-3006 or admissions@tpoftampa.com.