Are you struggling with addiction? Do you feel at the end of your rope and you’re losing hope? Are you ready for a change?
It’s a question that people struggling with addiction and undermining unwanted habits have been asking for decades. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help rewire your brain from addiction faster so that you can stop unhealthy habits and get back to living a happy life.
In this blog post, we’ll unpack what is necessary to start the journey toward a healthy lifestyle – including discussing how long it takes to rewire your brain from addiction.
Brain and addiction
To understand addiction, we need first to understand the brain. The brain is made of billions of neurons that communicate with one another in various ways. When we experience something stimulating, our neurons fire off and send signals throughout our bodies or neural activity.
As we continue to experience these stimuli, the neural pathways strengthen and grow. Eventually, those pathways become our “default” setting for how we react to an incentive—they become our habits and patterns. That’s why it’s so hard for people who have been drinking or using drugs for years to quit: their brains have learned to rely on these substances to cope with life’s stressors and sometimes even life itself.
Addiction occurs when these neural pathways become linked so strongly with a substance or behavior that they can’t function without it anymore. When this happens, dopamine levels spike in the brain, causing intense euphoria and pleasure-seeking behavior that makes us want more of whatever it is we’re addicted to, whether it be cigarettes, alcohol, the internet or food, or any other behaviour that has gotten out of balance. Addiction is a complex disease that can affect people in many ways and the brain. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the four components of addiction:
- The physiological component refers to the body’s response to intoxicants, like cigarettes, drugs, alcohol or sugar, including tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
- The behavioral component involves the behavior patterns associated with use, such as seeking out the substance even when you don’t want them intellectually.
- The cognitive component refers to how your thoughts are affected by substance use and abuse, particularly distortions in your perception of reality, your capability, your body and your relationship to the addictive action or substance.
- The social component includes the impact on relationships with family members, friends, and society.
Addiction isn’t about willpower—it’s about biology. It’s not about making poor decisions; it’s about your brain changing in ways that make it harder for you to resist until they begin to feel like they are taking over your mind and your life. You can transform addiction by understanding it, looking at how it affects the brain and accessing and using tools that will help you change your relationship to the addiction and to life. When you understand that this is a natural habit pattern and get help in order to replacing it and creating new habits you can have compassion and understanding with the old habit and have fun implementing new ones.
How will addiction affect our brains?
Addiction can be overcome on our own sometimes and sometimes we need help. You can get help through counseling, community groups, and medical advice. Many people don’t realize that the structure of your brain changes as you go through addiction recovery, which can have lasting positive transformative action in helping you success in your new behavior and actions.
According to American Psychological Association, “neuroplasticity” is “the ability of the brain to change its structure and function in response to experience.” In other words, when you change your environment or activities, your brain will rewire itself in a way that’s appropriate for those changes.
For instance, if you start drinking alcohol regularly, your brain will rewire, making it easier for you to process and enjoy alcohol. That’s why many people get hooked on alcohol or other drugs or in an activity-driven problem, like gambling or internet gaming disorder, shopping, and even food. Their brains start to crave because they have become associated with good feelings.
But what happens when you introduce new positive action and they begin to take over? How will the brain adapt? The brain is a complex organ, and addiction is one of the most complicated diseases that affect it. The brain has many different parts and systems, each with its functions. Here are some of the parts of the brain that will be affected by addiction:
- The limbic system controls emotions and memories.
- The frontal cortex helps us to make decisions and plan for the future.
- The hippocampus helps us to form memories.
All in all, addiction is an illness of the brain. It creates negative associations in your brain. The wonderful thing is that you can transform the brain and learn new behaviours at any time. Humans are amazing adaptive beings.
How Long to Rewire Brain from Addiction?
It is difficult to say how long it takes for the brain to change. The amount of time it takes to rewire the brain from different types of addiction can vary depending on many factors.
Many people see progress within as little as six weeks to six months as recovery progresses.
The good news is that treatments are available to help people recover from addiction. It is possible for anyone to begin to recover and create new adaptive habits. It takes time and effort to rewire your brain from an addiction, but it’s possible and rewarding with the right help and support.
Brain Rewiring: How does it work?
The brain is a remarkable organ. It can be damaged through addiction, trauma, disease, or aging—but it can also change it. The process of change, or “rewiring,” happens as we learn new things throughout our lives.
When we learn something new, the neurons in our brains form new connections. These connections are made by strengthening the bond between two neurons or creating new relationships. These new connections, or synapses, help us remember what we’ve learned.
The more we practice something, the stronger these connections become—and the easier it is for us to recall that information later on.
One of the most effective forms of therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management, are two different methods for brain rewiring in addiction.
- It is a behavior modification program that teaches patients to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones. It helps addicts understand how their thoughts contribute to their feelings and behaviors—and how they can change those thoughts (and emotions) to make better decisions. For example, suppose you’re addicted to drugs. In that case, you may be thinking, “I need more drugs because they make me feel good,”—but if you learn to think instead, “I don’t need any drugs at all because they don’t make me feel any better, than I already do,” then you will be able to make better choices about what you use and how much of it.
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing EMDR
- EMDR therapy Vancouver transforms your emotional response to traumatic experiences of the past. Working with a skilled therapist, the past event is focused on while directing a bi-lateral eye movement exercise. This process is highly researched and scientifically supported as the leading trauma based therapy. The subconscious mind, where the emotional memory is stored, is activated to release the emotional storage of that event. The cognitive memory of the event remains intact, however the emotional response is released.
Both of these methods have been shown to help people overcome addiction and lead happier lives. Rewiring the brain takes time and effort, but it is possible with the right help and support. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it alone. There are people out there who can help you on your journey and support you in making healthy changes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the benefits of rewiring your brain from addiction?
Rewiring your brain from addiction can help you break free of unhealthy habits and behaviors. It can also teach you healthier coping skills, improve decision-making skills, increase self-esteem and motivation, and reduce cravings for intoxicant or unwanted behaviours. Additionally, it can help you reconnect with yourself and others meaningfully.
Where can I seek help for rewiring a brain from addiction?
Consider Clear Heart Counselling; we are a team of professional counsellors who can help you find the strength to fight addiction and make choices that lead to a healthier life. Contact us today to get started. You can also check out our Google Business Profile to visit our clinic today!