Why the answer to addiction could be in the brain

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An exciting, new therapy might just be the treatment you or your loved one is looking for to take control of addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.  

It turns out that the brain is often the one steering the body to drug or alcohol addiction, because it is constantly searching for chemicals and neurotransmitters that are lacking or imbalanced. This could lead to one of two addictions: 

  • “Feel-good” chemicals and alcohol craving: Beta-endorphins are natural opioids produced by the brain, often referred to as “feel-good” chemicals. When a person is deficient in beta-endorphins, they may experience feelings of discomfort, anxiety, or low mood. In response, the brain seeks substances that can boost these feel-good chemicals, like alcohol. Alcohol consumption leads to the release of beta-endorphins, temporarily relieving these negative feelings. The brain registers this relief and associate’s alcohol consumption with a solution to its deficiency, reinforcing the craving and the cycle of addiction.
  • Euphoria and drug addiction: Methamphetamine addiction is closely tied to the brain’s dopamine system. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward. Methamphetamine use significantly increases dopamine release, creating intense feelings of euphoria. However, chronic methamphetamine use depletes the brain’s natural dopamine reserves. This dopamine deficiency is a key driver of addiction, as the brain craves the intense pleasure associated with the drug. As a result, people addicted to methamphetamine continue to seek the drug to restore dopamine levels, reinforcing their addiction.
Two friends drinking alcohol. Source: Unsplash

To better understand how and why brain activity might be linked and used to treat addiction, an exciting new approach called neurofeedback has emerged. This non-invasive technique helps people gain better control over their brain activity. This in turn offers hope to those seeking recovery from addiction by targeting specific neural pathways and helping to rewire the brain towards healthier patterns. Here are six factors to explain what neurofeedback is all about in a nutshell:  

  1. Personalised treatment: Neurofeedback is highly individualized. It begins with a comprehensive assessment of a person’s brainwave patterns, identifying specific areas of concern. This personalized approach tailors treatment to address the unique neurological challenges faced by each patient.
  2. Normalisation of brain function: Over time, substance abuse can lead to irregular brainwave patterns and rebranching of dendrites. Neurofeedback helps people regain normal brain function by providing real-time feedback on their brainwave activity. This training enables the brain to correct and re-establish healthier neural pathways.
  3. Reducing cravings: One of the most significant challenges in addiction recovery is managing cravings. Neurofeedback can assist in reducing the intensity and frequency of cravings by targeting areas of the brain associated with impulsiveness and desire.
  4. Emotional regulation: Substance abuse often leads to emotional dysregulation. Neurofeedback can help people regain control over their emotions by improving the brain’s ability to self-regulate, resulting in better emotional stability.
  5. Enhancing cognitive function: Addiction can impair cognitive functions such as decision-making and impulse control. Neurofeedback aims to enhance these cognitive abilities by strengthening the corresponding neural circuits.
  6. Long-term recovery: By addressing the root causes of addiction on a neurological level, neurofeedback offers a path to more sustained recovery. It equips people with the tools to resist relapse and better cope with life’s challenges.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, consider exploring the promising world of neurofeedback with Brain Harmonics.

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