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Drugs and the Brain: Healing After Addiction

The effects of addiction don’t have to be permanent.

If you have recently undergone a successful inpatient program, you may now be wondering about the process of undoing the damage. Chances are you may have experienced everything from a weakened immune system to damaged interpersonal relationships.

The relationship between drugs and the brain can be complicated. However, the good news is that the brain is resilient and capable of healing itself while the body detoxes from toxic substances—assuming you take control of your addiction.

With that in mind, we’ve outlined some steps below to help in your recovery.

How Addiction Affects the Mind

Substance use disorder affects the brain’s chemical compounds, causing you to lose control over your impulses. It might not be as noticeable at first, but your behavioural patterns will change as your brain tries to adjust to the drugs entering its system.

Some of these changes to the brain can affect your emotional control, mental health, and memory functions, making it difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle. These effects can unfortunately cause severe and lasting damage if left untreated for too long.

Luckily, there are some steps you can take to help facilitate a quicker recovery. The first and most important is to detox—the brain can’t begin the healing process if drugs are still working in your system. Once you’re sober, you can start taking the necessary steps to become the best and healthiest version of yourself.

However, getting clean could take some time, especially since withdrawal symptoms from detoxing can take a huge toll on your body and mind. This is why it’s crucial to seek out the support of loved ones or professionals as you battle addiction.

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How to Start Your Journey to Recovery

The following activities can help you stay sober and heal your brain on your path to recovery:

Create a Daily Routine

Schedules are your friend.

Creating a daily routine can help motivate you, especially when withdrawal symptoms feel especially challenging to manage. Routines bring predictability and stability to your day, helping to keep you grounded when things are hard.

Stay Mindful by Meditating

Staying present really matters.

Meditation strengthens your brain’s connection to your body, helping you focus on your daily activities. Aside from helping you concentrate, mindfulness meditation also helps increase your self-awareness, which could help further distance you from drugs.

Get on a Sleep Schedule

Your body heals best when it’s asleep.

Being sleep-deprived can lead to mood swings, higher stress levels, anxiety, depression, and an inability to control your emotions—all things that could result in a relapse. A consistent sleep schedule will keep you healthy and on track.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise improves mood, increases energy levels, and reduces cravings for toxic substances.

One study found that people with substance use disorder who regularly participated in aerobic exercises had better outcomes. Exercise also reduces stress by releasing feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Get active!

Improve Your Diet

Feed your body the food it needs.

Poor nutrition will not only disrupt digestion, but also cause numerous health issues. Additionally, dependence on toxic substances alters your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and damages vital organs, such as the pancreas and liver.

The good news is that proper nutrition helps your body produce serotonin, which could help reduce cravings for drugs or alcohol.

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Healthy Food for the Brain

When someone is recovering from addiction, their body is working overtime to expel toxic substances and regenerate new and healthy cells. This makes the diet you follow while undergoing addiction recovery especially important.

While there is no concrete list of foods people should and should not eat, the following offer benefits that can certainly be advantageous:

  • Broccoli – It’s an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamin K, which enhances cognitive thinking and memory skills.
  • Berries – They’re high in antioxidants and known to improve learning and memory functions. Eating berries regularly also allows the brain and body to naturally expel harmful substances from the body.
  • Celery – It helps minimize brain inflammation, reduce memory loss, and is an excellent source of antioxidants as well.
  • Red Meat – Beef is a great source of vitamin B12, which helps facilitate healthy brain function. Meat is also an excellent source of protein, which strengthens muscles in your body that may be weakened.
  • Garbanzo Beans – They are abundant in magnesium, which increases blood flow to the brain.
  • Nuts and Seeds – They are high in amino acids, fibre, and omega-3 fats that nourish and rejuvenate the brain. They’re also high in zinc, which improves your thinking skills.
  • Coconut Oil – It contains ketones that lift your brain’s function and reduce cravings for harmful substances.
  • Turmeric Root – Contains curcumin, an antioxidant that can prevent neuron damage and neurological disorders. This also boosts the regeneration of new brain cells and improves your brain’s memory function.

Creating a schedule to follow will help you keep your eating on track.

Addiction and the Brain: You Control Your Life

The relationship between drugs and the brain doesn’t have to be so complicated. You have the power to take ownership of your mind and your body.

Freedom From Addiction offers a wide range of treatments for different kinds of addiction. If you’re in recovery and struggling, our trauma-informed programs can help you develop the strategies and coping mechanisms you need to stay on track.

If you’re ready to get help, contact our hotline or leave us a message.

No matter how it may feel, you are not alone on your journey.


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