Welcome to part three of On The Brain, a Conversation series by people whose job it is to know as much as there is to know about the body’s most complex organ. Here, we discuss heavy drug users and the effects of addiction on the brain.

Heavy Drug Use and the Brain

Drug or alcohol addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder. However, only a relatively small number of people who ever use a drug become addicted to it. The reasons as to why heavy drug users experience addiction remain unclear.

Some genes are associated with addiction. These genes do not necessarily lead to addiction; they only show themselves in certain kinds of environments. Yet, there is no particular gene that seems to be causing addiction. Co-morbid psychiatric disorders, which many addicts also have, further contribute to the ambiguity of the answer. Alternatively, there is increasing evidence that drugs or alcohol can change the expression of genes. This can dramatically affect the way that the brain functions and can lead to many changes, including personality or aesthetic changes in the addict’s body. These changes can even be passed down from person to person, making a person’s history of alcoholism relevant to their treatment.

Studies show that some individuals are more prone to long-lasting alterations in the brain caused by these heavy drug users’ repeated substance use. However, the causes of this are still not known. Still, medical professionals have done substantial research on how these alterations to brain functions affect one’s decision-making and behavior. The decision of addicts to relapse back to drug or alcohol use, although seen as a simple poor choice by other people, is actually influenced by hijacked brain functions. Even though a lot is still unknown about addiction, the certainty of this fact is what allows treatment programs to help heavy drug user’s overcome addiction. For more information about successful treatment programs, see the source article at the Washington Post website.

Heavy Drug Use and Recovery

For many people, the effected brain pathways can recover because they are only temporarily altered. Still, more research is called for to determine what causes some people to be more inclined to addiction. Treatment options are only going to expand with further scientific advancement.

At Hayver, we are passionately engaged to help maintain everyone in recovery. This allows the brain the time it needs to heal itself and restore optimal decision-making. Contact us for more details at info(at)hayver.com.