The human brain is the most complex organ in the body. It is responsible for everything from enjoying a meal and understanding the sarcasm in a joke, to controlling your body temperature and making complex decisions.
Within the brain is the limbic system, an intricate structure of nerves and networks responsible for instinct and mood. The limbic system controls our basic emotions and drives.
Drug addiction has been proven to cause lasting changes in brain function which are difficult to reverse. It all begins by hijacking the brain’s reward system.
The Reward Pathway and Drug Addiction
The brain’s reward system is a specific circuit within the limbic system responsible for feelings of pleasure. In a healthy brain, pleasure is produced when we perform an action that satisfies a need or fulfills a desire. Eating a meal, engaging in meaningful work, prayer, meditation, and exercise are a few activities that normally trigger a positive reward. Once this reward is produced (through a release of dopamine) the brain remembers the experience and pulls us toward repeating the behavior again. In essence, we are reward driven.
Addictive drugs provide a shortcut, or a way to hijack the reward system. Instead of performing an action (like eating food or completing a task) to receive the dopamine reward, addictive drugs provide our brains with an almost immediate flood of pleasure.
When the drug causing this false reward is used repeatedly, overwhelmed receptor cells call for a shutdown. Once this occurs, the natural ability to produce pleasure is continually reduced, and the drug becomes the easiest way to fulfill the need. During active addiction, consistently higher doses of drugs and alcohol are required to produce the same results, all the while the brain is losing its own ability to provide pleasure or motivation through natural means.
The Empty Place We Feel in Early Recovery
Now let’s fast forward to that empty, lost place an addict feels soon after they first make the decision to stop the cycle of addiction.
Not only is this person experiencing uncomfortable and often painful withdrawal symptoms, but they are also completely unable to produce any feelings of peace, contentment or ease of mind. This frightening, and very real, mental state is often what drives a person in very early recovery right back into addiction. They may be fully aware that better days are available to them in the future, but the mental anguish and overwhelming feelings of depression and hopelessness can become unbearable. Looking for relief, they turn again to the only thing they know will provide immediate relief —drugs and alcohol.
Amino Acid Therapy
Amino acids are food for the brain, specifically the limbic factory. During active addiction the limbic factory stops producing “feel good” hormones on its own (for a period of time) and the addict ends up with overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and a marked lack of peace. Obviously, this state of mind poses a serious threat to early recovery, and the addict who wants to get clean ends up looking like a complete liar because of the sudden switch from “desperate for sobriety” to “desperate to go back to using” in a matter of days, hours, or even moments.
How does amino acid replacement therapy help?
When amino acids are provided during addiction treatment, they help jump-start the brain’s ability to make neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which help to combat depression, anxiety, regulate racing thoughts and mood swings, and increase motivation, concentration and mental focus. Amino acid therapy provides the nutrition needed to overcome the physiological problems so the individual in recovery can actively engage in therapy as well as 12-step programs.
Do Amino Acids Really Work?
I’ve experienced great success with clients and in my own life as well. For those in very early recovery, the ability to actively engage in counseling is vital. Amino acids quickly begin to restore balance and allows the individual to make forward progress, as opposed to spending the first few weeks of treatment simply trying to “deal with” the depression and hopelessness.
For individuals who have six months or longer in recovery, I still hear good reports about amino acid therapy. We make this therapy available not only to our clients, but to staff as well, and have experienced remarkable results.
Little Known Fact About Amino Acid Therapy
During the Gulf War, an amino acid blend was given to U.S. fighter pilots to relieve the debilitating stress of combat, enhance mental capabilities and improve the quality of sleep between missions.
Drug addiction is only one way our brains become depleted of neurotransmitters. High levels of stress and poor nutrition (which often go along with addiction) also deplete our brains. Instead of reaching for chocolate or sugar (like they used to tell people in early recovery), it’s important to give the brain what it really needs —fuel to restore the brain to its natural balance. Amino Acid Therapy does just that.
Everyone wants to be successful in sobriety. It is important to choose a center that facilitates healthy and effective practices for recovery. At The Shores Treatment and Recovery Center we believe in whole body and mind wellness and make use of practices which support long term sobriety. If you’re looking for the center that will help you turn your life around, you’ve found it at The Shores. Please feel free to contact us anytime for more information on getting started. We look forward to hearing from you.