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Changes in the Brain Leave Opioid Addicts at Risk

opioid addiction affects on brain

Although many people with opioid addictions go through the rigors of detox and enter recovery, their journey is made particularly difficult by two factors: (1) the incredibly addictive nature of opioid substances, and (2) the neural-biological changes in the brain produced by opioid use.

Opioids Hijack the Brain

Like other addictive substances, opioids affect the pleasure centers of the brain: stimulating the production of dopamine, which in turn prompts the brain to create additional neural receptors to handle the increase.

The increased stimulation is many times greater than a natural or normal dopamine response. Once additional receptors are created, they demand further stimulation, so there is an ever-increasing need for more opiates.

The desire for stimulation takes over the pleasure center responses, but those are not the only neural areas affected. The response is such a strong one that it impairs judgment and inhibition and dulls the ability to plan and organize.

Brain Changes Linger Long After Detox

Although the process of detoxification can rid the body of opiate drugs, it does not undo the neural changes that have occurred. The additional receptors remain in place, but they start to go dormant after many months without the use of stimulants.

The presence of these dormant receptors continues to pose a serious relapse risk for addicts who are in recovery. Even a small relapse awakens them and begins the addiction cycle again.

Social Model for Recovery: a Powerful Tool for Relapse Prevention

At 10 Acre Ranch, CA’s residential treatment center for men, developing a strong support network is a cornerstone of our social treatment model. We offer comfortable detox, along with individual treatment plans that include counseling, proper nutrition, healthy social interaction, exercise, meditation, and of course, abstinence.

If you are in the midst of a relapsing opioid addiction, dial 1-877-228-4679 to speak with a member of our dedicated admissions team. We understand your struggle and will make the admissions process and insurance verification as seamless as possible.