Healing the Addicted Brain From Methamphetamine Abuse
Methamphetamines wreak havoc on the minds and bodies of those who use them. Not long ago, it was believed that the damage done to the brain as a result of meth use was permanent, and while in extreme cases this may be true, the reality is that the brain is remarkably resilient, and there is hope for those who are addicted.
When you use methamphetamines, your brain is flooded with dopamine, triggering the reward and pleasure system of the brain. Repeated use burns out receptors, robbing you of pleasure and joy. In addition, long-term use creates other neurological issues, leading to difficulties in focusing, increased anxiety and other problems that can persist even after stopping. While the addicted brain certainly takes a beating over time, it also has the remarkable ability to bounce back if given the chance.
If you have struggled with meth addiction, you may feel a sense of hopelessness. You may feel that the depression and fog will never lift. The first year is the most difficult, and lingering feelings of sadness, lack of energy and brain fog often lead to relapse. This is one of the reasons treatment is so important. In treatment, not only do you have a safe place to recover, but you can also learn tools and skills that can help give you the best chance of a successful recovery. In addition to abstinence from drugs, there are also other things that you can do to heal your addicted brain:
- Adequate sleep
- Healthy diet with plenty of protein
- Engaging activities such as reading, playing board games, puzzles
- Supportive people
It may not feel like it, but when you stop using meth, your brain starts working to heal right away. It does take a while. Staying clean and sober, and taking good care of yourself helps. Getting plenty of rest and eating a good diet is essential to heal both your brain and your body. Exercise not only helps promote circulation and overall health, it also helps boost your brain chemistry, improving your mood and relieving depression. Lingering feelings of “brain fog” and difficulty focusing are common symptoms of the recovering addicted brain. You can help it along by doing activities that engage your brain. Good examples are solving crossword puzzles, reading, writing, socializing and creative pursuits such as painting or drawing. These activities help your brain create new connections and pathways.
A safe, supportive environment is one of the best ways to give your addicted brain a chance to heal and recover. Being around people who are compassionate, who support your recovery and who understand you is one of the best ways to stay clean and sober. The first few weeks and months can be the most difficult, as you struggle to cope with cravings and deal with daily life drug-free. Treatment can offer the structure and safety you need to heal your addicted brain and begin a life free from the slavery of addiction.