Insane in the Brain? Repairing the Brain in Addiction Treatment and Recovery

Addiction makes us insane in the brainAn individual living in active addiction is almost quite literally “insane in the brain”.  Heroin and drug addicts are not the same person they once were and they’re thinking and behaving is mostly out of impulse in order to satisfy an in-depth and insatiable compulsion that’s only temporarily relieved by indulging in their drug of choice. See “Proof That Addiction is a Disease: How Addiction Affects the Brain in 4 Ways“.

Some damage to the brain may be irreparable.  How much of it can be repaired depends on a number of factors including the amount of heroin or drugs being consumed on a regular basis, frequency and how long an individual has been using drugs.

But despite potentially serious damage to the brain during active addiction, most of it can be repaired.  In this article, we discuss the brain’s role in addiction, treatment and long-term recovery.

About the Brain

The brain is such a fascinating organ.  It controls our thinking, our speech, our memory, our sensory-motor skills, our  breathing and so much more. When a drug addict first enters treatment and recovery, the brain is so confused.  That’s because addiction and ongoing drug use chemically and structurally alters the brain and has become used to an ongoing consumption of foreign chemicals.

For example, when I first stopped using drugs, I would wake up at 3 am every morning, wide awake and ready to go. I realized I was waking up at that hour because I would always use at that time. My brain was basically thinking “come on Megan, wake up, it’s time to use!” This went on for almost 3 months. The brain becomes so used to ongoing use of heroin and addiction.  Thus, once a person stops using, the brain has to recover and repair itself in many ways.  Depending on a persons length of heroin use, it can take years to get back to “normal.”

Restoring Brain Structure to Normal in Addiction Treatment & Recovery

Should addicts be sent to jail?The cerebrum is the large, outer part of the brain. It controls our ability to think, read and learn, emotions, senses and muscle movements. The cerebrum is divided into two hemispheres, the right controls the left side of the body and the left controls the right side. Each hemisphere has four sections containing lobes. The main lobe that is effected by heroin use is the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe controls our decision making skills and personality. The temporal lobe controls speech, memory and smell. The occipital lobe processes visual information from our eyes. Lastly, the parietal lobe processes taste, temperature and touch.

The brain will slowly begin to repair itself after heroin stops entering the brain.  How quickly the brain will heal depends largely on quantity of heroin consumed coupled with how long you’ve been using it

Restoring Chemical Balance to the Brain in Recovery

Addiction makes us insane in the brainThere are five primary neurotransmitters that play a role in our health and how we feel, dopamine, serotonin, GABA, acetylcholine and endorphins. Dopamine is the brains “feel good” chemical.  It plays a role in our energy, mood and motivation. Serotonin regulates sleep and appetite. GABA helps us feel calm and relaxed. Acetylcholine processes information and memory. Endorphins are another “feel good” chemical and helps our bodies adjust to pain. When a person is using heroin the brain slowly stops producing these neurotransmitters.

Heroin goes right to the brains reward system by flooding the nucleus with 2-10 times the amount of dopamine, more quickly and reliably than any other normal activity. When a person enters addiction treatment and/or is in the early stages of recovery, the neurotransmitters are low and/or imbalanced.  This is why recovering heroin addicts in the early stages may feel anxious, depressed and unable to concentrate. Some other symptoms include fatigue, loss of memory, insomnia, hypertension, mood swings, headaches and a range of mental disorders.

Addiction Treatment and Recovery Requires Time and Hard Work

Do not get discouraged if you are experiencing any the above referenced symptoms. The brain takes time to heal from years of heroin and drug addiction.  It may take awhile, but recovery is so much better than living in the hell of addiction. There are many healthy ways to get the chemicals working again. Listening to music, laughing, exercise, enjoying time in the sun (wear sunscreen), etc.  There are certain foods that replenish neurotransmitters such as carbohydrates and vegetables. Pineapples, bananas, nuts and plums help increase serotonin levels. If you enjoy spicy food, it is known to release endorphins. Vitamins B and C, and folic acids help transmit brain chemicals. Treat yourself with sweets, we deserve it in recovery (just don’t over do it!)

Need addiction Help?

Our online community helps men and women suffering from drug and heroin addiction who are sick and tired of being slaves to addiction get the help and treatment they want, need and deserve.  For those ready for a chance, fill out our brief treatment contact form.



Written by William Charles and Megan Sarah, Owner / Publisher and Writer / Blogger for Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™, Heroin News and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)

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One thought on “Insane in the Brain? Repairing the Brain in Addiction Treatment and Recovery

  1. Thank you William and Megan. I’m learning soo much from you. I’m grateful to know that there can be recovery. I know from my child that seboxone can be bought from , I guess other users. My child is seriously wanting their life back.., but has no money, nor do I, to get treatment. I’m sure that’s a huge problem for most addicts who want to stop. Jail or prison is not the answer. Money used for them being incarcerated should be used for treatment centers, especially now.
    I know I’m preaching to the choir, and my solutions may not be an answer, but I pray that my comments do some kind of good ,and we parents can help get our children….men and women, back to living a life they deserve , without the horror of being an addict!

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