An addiction is a serious brain condition, impacting one of the most vital organs in the body. It also affects the body itself, from how it functions to its wellbeing.
Whilst signs and symptoms of addiction are regularly displayed on the outside, the majority of effects and damages are happening on the inside.
Throughout the development phases of addiction, health and wellbeing can begin to slip. Drugs and alcohol interfere with how the body and brain operate, communicate, and survive. Over time, interferences can cause many health conditions, can result in irreversible damages and can flaw the biochemistry of the brain.
Very difficult to overcome, an addiction is an ingrained condition, which can relapse if untreated or mistreated. As both the body and brain are highly adaptive, they will continue to accommodate drugs and alcohol. Lapsing habits, behaviours and consumption levels will be essential, to bounce back physically and mentally.
Here’s the truth behind ‘how does addiction affect the body and brain?’, along with the treatability of addiction. At Rehab Clinics Group we can help to treat and get your addiction under control, ready to elevate your physical and mental health.
Physical effects of addiction
Drugs and alcohol are toxic, addictive substances. Excessive exposure to each is discouraged. Most addictive drugs are illegal, whilst others are monitored through prescriptions. Although alcohol is legal, there are set guidelines to follow in order to drink sensibly.
Guidelines, prescriptions, and legislations are in place to reduce consumption and the risks it can have on health, wellbeing, and susceptibilities of addiction. Yet for someone who’s already displaying signs of addiction, recommendations will be difficult to follow.
The physical pull that an addiction can cause can be intense and highly controlling. As the brain communicates with the rest of the body, physical reactions and functionality will adapt over the development of addiction. Cravings can also be engulfing, influencing decisions, actions, and consumption levels.
An addiction can also carry physical effects ranging from mild to life-limiting. Both drug methods and choices can impact how quick, impactful, and hazardous consumption is.
Yet the general consensus is that consumption, up to the level of addiction, will be damaging, known to cause deficiencies, malnourishment, problems with fertility, organ damage, increased risks of cancer, and further debilitating symptoms.
External damages are visible to the eye. Yet the internal are worryingly hidden, found to carry the greatest damage. Here’s what’s happening inside as we answer, ‘how does addiction affect the body and brain?’.
What does addiction do to the brain and body?
The effects that drugs and alcohol have, to the point of addiction, cause four key changes in the brain. What happens in the brain also impacts the body, from its stability to functionality. The difficulty is that the brain is highly adaptive, which will accommodate such changes, making it very easy for a tolerance to develop and an addiction to materialise.
Firstly, consumption to addictive levels can disrupt the limbic system. The limbic system controls our emotional responses. It’s also the part of the brain which filters out pleasure and taught behaviours. Drugs and alcohol are favoured for the pleasure that they offer. Not only will their effects increase cravings and the likelihood of repeat actions but will also affect brain chemistry and structures.
Secondly, the cerebral cortex which carries information through our bodies and also controls our key senses can be disturbed through addiction. Heavy consumption can impact functionality, disrupt the flow of information, and heighten senses.
Thirdly, homeostasis is the body’s natural balance, making sure that all internal systems are stable and healthy. Addiction can adjust the brain’s natural balance through highly stimulating and unstable habits. Adjustments can negatively impact homeostasis, found to cause obsessive behaviours, chronic cravings, and high urges to repeat behaviours.
Lastly, as addiction can cause many disruptions, it can delay or deplete the amount of information that’s passed from the brainstem to the body. Organic messages will usually control feelings, outlooks, energy, motivation levels and emotions. All can be disrupted, found to cause internal problems, poor mental health, and psychological delays.
The degree of impact that addiction has on the body and brain can depend on the drug of choice. For example, stimulants speed up internal processes which can increase heart rate, drive hunger, and increase the risks of depression. Whereas depressant drugs slow down processes, causing delayed yet dangerous changes.
Alongside the above changes, drugs, and alcohol overstimulate the reward system. Once their presence is associated with reward, the brain can adapt, crave, and accommodate ongoing presence, making it very difficult to break the physical action of consumption.
The effect of addiction on the brain especially can be highly concerning, known to lead to mental health issues, psychological impairment, memory loss and behavioural issues. It’s also found to change internal systems and functionality, to prioritise drugs and alcohol. Once an ingrained addiction develops, it can be difficult to fight against the body and brain, as they support ongoing consumption.
Treating the body and brain
As life-changing impacts can be experienced through addiction, to recover, the body and brain must be treated. The focus will be on rehabilitating and readjusting physical and psychological functioning and wellbeing, to disassociate drugs and alcohol.
A range of treatments and therapies will be required to improve the stability of the mind, internal systems, and actions. Holistic therapies are extremely helpful when focusing on the damages of addiction. The likes of mental health treatment, relaxation therapy, mindfulness, nutritional therapy, and wellbeing management will all be recommended alongside addiction treatment.
Addiction recovery will focus on nurturing the body and mind, to strengthen their fight against future triggers and relapse.
Long Term Addiction Treatment
Alongside holistic therapies and wellbeing management, traditional treatment must be completed to recover from addiction for the long term. The aim through this combination is to withdraw from drugs and alcohol, support the body and brain through the process, learn to cope without their presence, and improve wellbeing to unwelcome future abuse.
Detoxification and rehabilitation will be recommended, to get clean, develop new outlooks, routines, and habits, and improve mental health. Each treatment session will focus on rebuilding post-addiction, to sustain sober intentions, feelings, and choices.
Relapse prevention planning will be key to protecting the body and brain. Plans will be in place to avoid psychological triggers, suppress physical actions of consumption, and improve overall wellbeing.
It’s clear that by answering ‘how does addiction affect the body and brain?’, that it is a significant disorder that can disrupt, damage, and gain physical and psychological control. If you’re struggling, at Rehab Clinics Group, we can help you experience suitable support and treatment to regain control. Heal your body and brain whilst protecting them for the future through addiction treatment.