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The brain on drugs
The brain on drugs
Hi, new member, long time lurker. . I have battled an opiate addiction for the last 5 years. It started as recreational use of some percocet or hydrocodone on the weekends and then to O.C.s. Once i turned to the oxy I lost all control to the drug and my life spiraled out of control. It took everything from me and laughed the whole time(metaphor ) When OCs were reformulated I turned to Opana, and that too was reformulated. I then tuned to the devil of Heroine. Most people in my hometown have turned to it as well. It eventually turned to IV use and I had to sell the drug to even afford my habit. God when I think of all those trips to the city to score my skin crawls. And so many others do the same. I finally have gotten clean and havd been feeling sooo much more alive. My heart breaks for all my old friends still stuck on the stuff, but I know for my well bieng I have to stay away, not only for my health but for many other reasons as well.
Now I entitled this post on the brain because I have been reading a very informative book entitled, "Change your Brain, Change your Life" by Dr. Amen. It has taught me much, not only about the addicts brain but also that of the brain of many mental health disorders. Lets face it, I am certain that a portion of us addicts also suffer some type of mental health issue, even if we dont want to admit it. From reading the book I have established that I most certainly have decreased function, or hyperactive function in the following areas; The deep lymbic system, the basal ganglia, the prefontal cortex, and the temporal lobe, left side especially. The odd thing bieng all these things came from my drug abuse. Not only consisting of opiates and also marijuana and other substances. It scares me to think that I may have permanently damaged my brain. Is there anyone out there that could give me advice? I want to restore it to its maximum level as I am now sober and free of physical symptoms. I only battle the mental struggle day in and day out. I have even stopped smoking cigs for the most part. Much Love, Tlazur
Originally Posted by tlazur
Way to go, stopping the nightmare - well done. I'm not familiar with the book you mentioned, but some thoughts came to mind reading your post.
It sounds to me like you are attempting to diagnose some symptoms or behaviors by way of this book, and I don't know if that's helpful for you at the moment. Yes, many addicts do struggle with mental disorders, as well as substance abuse. Sometimes, it's hard to find which is the cause and which is the effect. From what you've mentioned, the brain areas you speak of are related to our emotional well-being, motivation, memory and mood-control. There's no way of knowing how much of these issues were there before drug addiction, or how much is a result of the drug use. The point is, yes, your emotions, mood, memory and motivation are directly affected by drugs. But that doesn't mean the effects are permanent or physiological.
Drugs of abuse work on the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that regulates our motivational system. That is also the area that controls the release of dopamine and seratonin. The release of dopamine and serotonin in the nucleus accumbens lies at the root of active drug addiction. So - when we stop using, our brain chemistry needs TIME to heal - to relearn how to release/re-upake the dopamine and seratonin. It doesn't restore itself in a few days or weeks.
The longer you are clean, the more some damage to our brain clears up on its own. It can take a year or more. Some experience PAWS, which explains the prolonged healing process. Key to ANY healing, keep in mind, is complete abstinance from any mood-altering drug; if we pick up again, we reset the entire healing process to the beginning.
If you want to know the extent of the affect these drugs have had on you, I suggest you wait until you're clean for at least a year, then pursue some neuro-psych testing. I did it, and it gives you a better picture of what you're dealing with. They will then give you some suggestions of how best to make any improvements or accommodations. For me, it was covered by my health insurance.
But keep in mind, every aspect of our being was affected by drug use and abuse. Emotionally, we stopped growing during those years we depended upon drugs. So, in essence, when we stop - emotionally, we're about the age we were when we started the drugs. That leaves a lot of folks back in their teens! Our feelings have been numbed for years - so the re-emergence of the full gambit of emotions can be overwhelming. We need to develop coping skills to deal with life's day-to-day emotions.
That's why I urge anyone who is trying to maintain recovery to seek out regular meetings of NA, AA or CR. These 12 steps groups are essential to helping us to grow emotionally - to deal with our past, to reveal our underlying issues, and to develop new coping skills. In essence, the 12 steps are the roadmap out of addiction.
Early on, we think we're a lot 'worse' that we truly are. We just have a journey ahead of us, before life becomes comfortable again. I could not have managed to stay clean, had it not been for my 12-step groups. That's how I ended the mental battle. That's how I overcame my underlying emotional issues (such as chronic depression and migraines), and learned how to ENJOY life free of drugs.
So before you get too overwhelmed about all these areas of the brain that are mentioned in the book, understand that we are capable of tremendous healing - and incredible growth. Our attitude is an essential key to how much we are able to overcome. Don't wallow in the negative -the harm done - but focus on the positive - what you have and what you can do with what you have. Jump in with both feet to a 12 step recovery program, and I think you'll notice the progress.
I wish you very well on your recovery journey.
You will know the truth - and only the truth can set you free.
Thank you for the candid reply artist. I understand your thought of the self diagnosis bieng a bit early. The only reason I went to that extent was because I remember how I was before I started abusing drugs. I went through 4 close family member deaths in a few short years from age 12 to 16 and was unable to cope with them. It is apparent to me it had a great effect on my personality and my relationship with other people. It could be me just bieng to hard on myself but I feel as those reasons had much to do with my abuse for it helped me suppress those feeling of loss and inadequacy. It still affects me in some ways, mostly just the death of my father, whom was the first to go, R.I.P. Its one thing to get over it but a whole nother thing to actually do that. If I am to, sobriety will be the only way this would be possible. Now that I am I have felt this undescribable feeling in my spine when I dwell upon the beauty in life. I can feel them inside me somehow. I thought in the past they had left me for my disgraces, one after another. I am a very spiritual person, not in a christian way, but I believe "God" is in all of us and I also believe in reincarnation. I wonder how NA groups would percieve this notion. I dont want to be put in societal categories, I am an individual. For energy never dissapates, it just changes forms, and some say our soul is a form of energy. Over these last days I have been crying much and have changed much of my tastes in music and other things. I only want things that send a positive message. I have been at a detox like place in my sisters new apt in TN. I am two weeks clean and will be returning home in 2 days. All the old dope friends have been deleted from my existance and I will start NA meeting immediately after I return home. I know my thoughts seem like a jumbled mess, and they are! I just pray that with yoga, exercise, NA, and a new job I will succeed. Sincerely, TLazur. Namaste