Key 5. Get to know your brain
Understanding how our brain works helps us make sense of our behaviors.
Mindfulness – being consciously aware of what and how we are thinking, feeling, and behaving, is critical to our mental and emotional health.
Addiction, trauma, and depression take away our ability to self direct.
Any use, causes the brain to stay in addiction mode.
Addiction develops often despite our client’s best intentions and in spite of their strength of character. Think about how you feel when something good happens, maybe your team wins a game or you're praised for something you've done well, that's your limbic system at work. Because natural pleasures in our lives are necessary for survival, the limbic system creates an appetite that drives you to seek out those things.
The first time a client uses a drug, he experiences unnaturally intense feelings of pleasure. The reward circuitry is activated. But the brain starts changing as a result, less dopamine signaling in the brain, some neurons also may die. Dopamine’s ability to activate circuits to cause pleasure is severely weakened. Many of our clients have experienced these effects to their brains often feeling flat, lifeless, and depressed. In fact, without drugs, life may seem joyless to them. Clients can need drugs just to bring dopamine levels up to normal. These brain changes often drive the behaviors that can lead our clients to enter or agree to treatment, such as stealing, losing friends, family problems, or other physical or mental problems brought on by drug abuse, this is addiction. These consequences may lead clients to seek treatment but the changes to the brain persist, and the client still has a desire to seek out and use drugs compulsively, despite the negative consequences. For our clients repeated drug use has disrupted the complex but well balanced systems in the brain. Many clients are addicted to more than one substance, further complicating recovery. The brain is an extraordinarily complex and fine-tuned communications network containing billions of specialized cells (neurons) that give origin to our thoughts, emotions, perceptions and drives. Repeated drug use disrupts the well-balanced systems in the brain in ways that persist even after our clients have stopped use. At Legacy we work to achieve long-term recovery, by educating clients and their families about the brain, by gaining knowledge we can begin to work with our brains toward a path of healing instead of against our brains elevating the chance for relapse. At legacy we work with physiological testers to help paint a more accurate picture of the client and their needs, when necessary we are able to explore the use or continued use of medication in clients treatment. By addressing individual client needs, we take the whole person into account. For it is not enough to simply get a client off drugs; rather, the many changes that have occurred - physical, social, psychological - must also be addressed to help clients sustain a successful recovery.