Addictions Cause Changes in the Brain
Complex trauma, nutrient deficiencies, toxins, medications, infections, stress and genetic predispositions can lead to the initiation of drug and alcohol use as self-soothing measures. Once drug and alcohol use has been established, these substances perpetuate and exacerbate the already present biochemical imbalances which continue to disrupt the normal functioning of the brain leading to the changes noted in this picture.
Brain in Cocaine Use Disorder
This picture shows the brain changes in someone who is addicted to cocaine. All chronic use disorders can show changes in brain function.
Picture from Drs. N. Volkow and H. Schlbert
Signs that you may have a use disorder:
Experiencing psychological, mood, or behavior changes
Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms
You want to use less but can't seem to cut down
Obsessing about the drug or alcohol
Needing higher amounts to achieve the same effect
Starting at the Foundation of the Pyramid:
Re-Establishment of Normal Brain Chemistry
It is imperative to start with brain-based evaluations, looking for underlying nutrient, hormonal, and other biochemical imbalances, while addressing the psycho-social-spiritual aspects for a successful recovery from addictions and brain dysfunction.
Causes of Brain Imbalance
Improper digestion and altered microbiome
Physical and emotional trauma
Traumatic brain injury
Model of Addiction Treatment
Brain Recovery with Abstinence
This image shows that imbalances caused by long-term substance use may be reversed with abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
1 month of abstinence
14 months of abstinence
These images show recovery of brain dopamine transporters in a patient with methamphetamine use disorder after protracted abstinence. With treatment that keeps patients off of substances, they can recover at least some of their
former functioning, as these images illustrate. — Volkow, N.D., et al.
2001. Journal of Neuroscience 21:9414–18.