How Drugs Affect the Brain
Drugs and alcohol are substances that, when ingested, smoked, injected, or snorted, create all kinds of short- and long-term negative effects on the brain. Drug abuse causes brain injuries because:
- These substances are toxic chemicals that alter or destroy brain cells
- Drug use can cause hypoxia (lack of oxygen), seizures, and respiratory arrest (stopped breathing) that cause brain injury due to the organ not receiving enough oxygen
Some of these conditions may be reversible, while others result in permanent brain damage that cannot be undone. It is important to know that substance abuse is not consequence-free, no matter how harmless it may seem at the time. The only way to truly avoid brain damage from drug abuse is to start down the path to recovery with addiction treatments, avoiding alcohol abuse and other substance misuse altogether.
Brain Damage from Drug Abuse
Using substances like drugs and alcohol can cause neurological changes and damage that can range from mild to severe. Many of these changes are temporary, and they go away once the substance leaves the body. When you misuse drugs and alcohol for a long period of time, or use a large amount at once, or use them during certain phases of brain development, serious brain damage and changes to brain function can occur, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (“wet brain”)
- Brain atrophy (brain shrinkage)
- Cognitive complications
- Changes to white matter and loss of gray matter
- Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
- Hypoxic brain injury (shortage of oxygen to the brain) causing strokes, disorientation, memory loss, slow reactions, reduced motor skills, and seizures
- Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (experiencing “flashbacks” and visual hallucinations from taking LSD, MDMA, psilocybin, and mescaline)
Brain cell damage or changes to permeability of the blood brain barrier due to neurotoxic (destructive) effects of substances like amphetamines, heroin, marijuana, opioids, inhalants, cocaine, and alcohol. These types of changes can result in neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, or impairment to thinking, vision, and hearing.
Long-term and short-term drug use may also result in overdose, or a person taking unnecessary risks while intoxicated, and neglecting other aspects of their health and nutrition, which can cause indirect brain injury or neurological complications.
By stopping drug consumption or cutting back, you will reduce your overall risk of developing brain damage. Through a medically supervised detox program, followed by integrated rehabilitation, you can stop using drugs and alcohol safely, regaining control over your life and ensuring your brain remains healthy.
Is Brain Damage from Drug Abuse Reversible?
As brain functions are complex and our bodies are very adaptable, there is a wide spectrum of brain changes that can occur, and every person will have a unique experience when it comes to healing. Some changes may be persistent or even permanent, but many neurological complications may be reversible in some cases, including Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome, brain shrinkage associated with alcohol, and even those who have suffered a stroke may experience some degree of recovery. Seeking treatment for substance abuse as soon as possible will increase your chances of making a full or partial recovery from drug-induced brain injury.
Get Help for Drug Abuse at Serenity Oaks Wellness Center in Fort Lauderdale
Serenity Oaks is a drug addiction treatment center located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with the goal of supporting clients as they break free from the stronghold of addiction. Through the incorporation of medical, clinical, and recreational programming run by accredited staff, doctors, and therapists, we aim to help those experiencing a substance use disorder to embrace a life full of value, peace, health, and fulfillment by lifting spirits and providing caring, personalized treatment plans that work.
We never treat our clients as a number. You are important to us, and through levels of care that include medical detox programs, inpatient rehab, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and our Thrive alumni group, we will lift you up, helping you make lasting changes to your habits, behaviors, lifestyle, and way of thinking that will allow you to remain in recovery, long-term.
We treat drug and alcohol addiction, as well as relapse, codependency, anger management and mental health disorders like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, panic disorder, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder through an integrated dual diagnosis program. We offer treatment modalities that include:
- Medical protocols
- Mental health disorder treatment through dual diagnosis
- Clinical therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy CBT, multidimensional family therapy, and motivational interviewing
- Life skills programs
- 12 step integration
Along with our dedication to each client’s comfort and care, what sets us apart is our holistic approach to treatment. We believe that you are a complex human being with multiple layers, and that by treating the underlying causes of addiction, providing coping skills and tools, and allowing your mind and spirit to heal alongside your body, you will be more likely to move forward on a positive trajectory in life. Our holistic treatments include nutritional education, exercise programs, yoga, meditation, and acupuncture.
Contact the Serenity Oaks team today for information on how to recover your brain’s health and brain activity after alcohol abuse, alcohol and drug addiction, opioid addiction, cocaine addiction, and other substance misuse issues. We can provide drug rehab, addiction recovery programs, medical detox, group and individual therapy, and treatment from medical professionals that will help you recover from the damage caused by drugs.