Addiction is a complex disorder that has powerful effects on the brain. Compulsion, environmental cues, and situational triggers can make it difficult to stay clean even after attending a treatment program.
Fortunately, there are many actions you can take to help train your brain to work substance-free. The holistic treatment programs offered at Blu By The Sea gives you the knowledge, tools, and motivation you need to stay substance-free long after you leave our inpatient center. Here are the 5 ways to treat the effects of addiction on the brain.
Addictive substances force the brain to produce unnaturally large amounts of dopamine in a short amount of time. Over time, the brain produces less dopamine, and you might be tempted to use more drugs to achieve that same high. Break the cycle by exercising. Working out involves time and effort – the way the brain intended us to achieve reward.
Exercise has countless health benefits, from weight loss to increased energy to greater self-confidence. There are also limitless ways to exercise: lifting weights, taking a morning jog, biking, playing a sport, or even a relaxing session of yoga.
Perhaps most importantly, exercise teaches your brain that there is a better way to achieve pleasure and can develop into a healthy lifelong habit. Consult your doctor or physician before you begin a new exercise program.
Learn new things
Your treatment may include holistic activities such as yoga, hiking, exercising, or art. Expand your possibilities by learning and discovering activities you enjoy. Take tennis lessons; pick up that instrument you used to play in school; hone your gardening skills.
If private lessons are out of your budget or otherwise inaccessible, look online for free classes and tutorials on just about any subject. Some websites even let you enroll in online university-level courses for free. You can learn new languages, programming, drawing, cooking, arts & crafts, you name it. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends or family to teach you a new skill or introduce you to someone who can help.
Build a network of support
After treatment, you may find it difficult to reconnect with people and build new relationships. Having a circle of people you trust who support you is key in rewiring your brain after addiction. Meet people who share your interests or who have struggled with similar issues.
Know that you’re not alone. Schedule weekly meetups at the park, or take classes together at your local gym. Join a book club together. It can be intimidating to make friends while recovering, but it can pay off for the long term.
We can learn a lot about ourselves by helping others in need. It can be as simple as helping an elderly neighbor shovel snow from their driveway, or as involved as speaking to kids about the harmful effects of substance abuse.
Knowing that your positive example inspires others can be a powerful motivator and keep you on the right path long after you leave the treatment facility.
Remove yourself from stressful environments
Adjusting back to normal life while coping with triggers can be an arduous task. Often times, everyday interactions and obligations make us stressed and unhappy and push us towards substance use. It might be an abusive partner, stress at work, or disrespectful family members. While difficult, it may be best to cast these negative influences from our lives. You’ll be happier, healthier, and better off for it.
Blu By The Sea strives to help you stay clean and sober not just for 30 days, but for the rest of your life. We’ll give you the tools and tailored attention you deserve to regain control of your life and break free from the effects of addiction. We’ve helped three decades of clients turn hope into recovery, and we can help you do the same.
- National Institutes of Health, Breaking Bad Habits – Why It’s So Hard to Change, NIH.gov, Jan 2012, http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/Jan2012/Feature1
- Harvard Health, How Addiction Hijacks the Brain, Helpguide.org, http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/how-addiction-hijacks-the-brain.htm#compulsion
- National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug Abuse and Addiction, Drugabuse.gov, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction