06 Feb Get Well and Stay Well – Neuroplasticity and Addiction
Neuroplasticity is a core foundation for the Sanctuary’s recovery program ~
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adapt and change throughout our lifetimes. It is scientific fact, a core foundation of our holistic addiction recovery program at The Sanctuary at Sedona. It is the basis of why we can fully recover from addiction, not just manage symptoms for the rest of our lives.
The brain has an amazing capacity to organize and re-organize itself no matter how old we are. This is done through the neural pathways—the connections and patterns of connections that our brains have at any given time. Imagine these connections as the basic ‘program’ of how we operate, no matter what state of health we are in.
Addiction, like any other illness, has very specific symptoms. There are thought and behavior patterns, for example, that we commonly associate with an addict’s experience like an obsession with using and a compulsion to use over and over again even when it’s painful to do so. Obsession and compulsion are driving forces in all addictions—they are the ‘program’ if you will, of how to be addicted. In the brain, these cardinal characteristics of addiction are neuro-pathways, or patterns of brain activity. An addict’s brain is organized in such a way that addiction will continue unless it is re-organized to do things differently.
The brain re-organizes itself in response to changes in its environment. This activity is a function of our basic instinct to survive. The brain adapts to meet the demands of our experiences and it does so continually. For example, when we are in imminent danger, the brain switches immediately to survival mode. Everything else shuts down as much as possible so we can, with every fiber in our being, fight, flee or freeze until the danger has passed. The brain knows what we need in that environment and so it rises to the occasion. It switches to another pattern of neuro-pathway connections. We don’t even have to think about it.
This has amazing implications in the field of addiction recovery because all of this is also true in addiction. The brain learns what needs to happen in order for us to be addicted. The more we think addictive thoughts and perform the behaviors of our addictions, for example, the more addiction-related pathways are reinforced. Very simply, if we live in the physical, mental, emotional and behavioral environment of addiction, the brain adapts to that environment.
On the other hand, we can take advantage of the brain’s wonderful capacity to change. We can forge new
brain patterns that create and reinforce recovery from addiction. We can get well and we can stay well with the help of our brains.
If you would like more information, please contact us. We are happy to discuss any aspect of our work with you. You can send us a note online here, reach us by phone at (877) 710-3385, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.