Our brains are muscles just like any other. They need to be exercised in order to stay fit and healthy. Unlike our other muscles, however, our brain health is linked entirely to our identity. Losing memory, finding it difficult to solve problems, and otherwise not being able to do what you want to do mentally can make you feel like you are trapped in a cage you cannot get out of. This mental handicap can occur for many reasons, from dementia to injury, to even excessive substance abuse. Whereas the former two require physical and medical therapy in order to manage, substance abuse requires a different path.
How Alcohol Affects the Brain
Alcohol is a familiar companion to many, particularly when they party. This is because, as a depressant, alcohol has a factor in reducing your brain’s inhibitors. This can make it easier to converse, have fun, and socialize. When you abuse alcohol, either through consistent intake or through binge drinking, however, you will find an increase in negative effects on your brain. From aggravation to even memory loss, alcohol can damage your brain. It is also not always guaranteed to work as you want it to. One drink might help you relax after a hard day, for instance, but substance abuse of alcohol often causes depression and even anxiety.
Consistent alcohol intake changes the chemistry of the brain. Is alcoholism a disease? By all measures, yes. It changes the brain’s chemistry, dampening the reward, pleasure, and motivation centers in the brain, as well as affecting the body. Anyone who is going through withdrawal can attest to how painful it is. By understanding an alcohol addiction as a disease you and your loved ones can seek the right treatment, including going to rehab and having consistent support.
Other Addictive Substances
Every drug has the potential to be abused. While illegal substances are obvious examples, what too many people don’t consider is an addiction to prescription medicine. It is for this reason that Insight Medical Partners works with pharmacies and medical practices towards offering alternatives to opioid medicines. Opioids do wonders for relieving pain, but consistent use results in patients building a tolerance. This leads to higher dosages, which leads to addiction and even overdose. Just because a doctor has prescribed the medicine does not mean it is inherently safe. Just as with alcohol, being addicted to any substance can alter your brain’s chemistry, meaning that overcoming this addiction is key towards improving your brain function.
Ways to Stay Sober
Going through a rehabilitation program should be the first step for anyone who needs to overcome an addiction. From there, joining support groups and finding new ways to stimulate your brain will do wonders. Read more, learn a new language, learn to play an instrument, try new recipes – all of these new experiences and challenges will give your brain the stimulus it needs in order to stay active and healthy. The more challenging your new hobbies are to learn, the more you can put your drug of choice out of your mind and focus instead on improving your life, one step at a time.