Neurochemical Dysfunction in Addiction Treatment
The nervous system is the body’s primary communication system. Comprised of a network of nerve cells called neurons, it relays information from neuron to neuron by receptors providing both electrical and chemical stimulation. Chemical stimulation naturally occurs by transmitting chemicals called neurotransmitters. Through a highly regulated electrochemical chain of events, the brain uses neurotransmitters to communicate with both itself and other organs and tissues in the body. Information is transmitted, neuron-to-neuron, from one area of the brain or body to another. When this information eventually reaches its final destination, the message is translated into an emotion or action.
Neurotransmitters define our moods, actions and our overall health. The body synthesizes neurotransmitters from amino acids, proteins and various co-factors obtained through supplementation and our diet. The list of clinical problems associated with neurotransmitter imbalance includes depression, substance abuse, anxiety and a general sense of imbalance.
Data shows that alcohol and drug use can directly affect neurotransmitter synthesis and function. After long periods of mood-altering chemical use, the neurotransmitter levels are altered and receptors can become damaged or up-regulated/down-regulated, thereby causing a person to feel empty, anxious or depressed. The person then experiences diminished feelings of well-being or pleasure and either remains in a depressive or anxious state or reaches for artificial satisfaction to alleviate these feelings. Inherent symptoms — hypersensitivity, overreaction to stress, restlessness, anxiety, lack of satisfaction, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, sleep problems, depression, etc. — are directly related to this change in neurotransmitter level or underperformance of the neurotransmitter function.
Nutritional Supplementation Restoration Approach
Scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) now agree that five key neurotransmitters act as agents in changing cell function in the brain and subsequent behavior. The amount and availability of these natural neurotransmitters can be reduced through the continuous use of mood-altering substances that influence the levels of dopamine (for reward), GABA (anxiety), norepinephrine (depression), encephalin (craving) and serotonin (sleep).
Research scientists report that therapy may greatly improve neurotransmitter pathways rebalance. Results can be greatly improved or accelerated if the patient also follows a plan of health and wellness that includes recovery-oriented behaviors, regular sleep (eight hours), good nutrition including dietary amino acid and protein intake, and regular physical activity (30 minutes daily).
Neurochemical Therapy in Addiction Treatment
Scientific research that shows that neurotransmitter levels can be improved and damage can be repaired through abstinence and recovery. Our program utilizes physician prescribed vitamins and medications when appropriate along with a healthy nutritionally balanced diet designed to target and assist in the restoration of key neurotransmitters that can bring brain chemistry into normal balance, reduce cravings and allow optimal brain functioning. This program of treatment targets specific neurotransmitter deficiencies to achieve maximum benefit.
With the use of the skills learned in treatment including recovery-oriented thoughts and behaviors, positive relationships, prescribed medications and vitamins when indicated, balanced diet including amino acids and proteins, and exercise, it is possible to significantly improve neurotransmitter levels and function, reduce feelings of depression and dramatically reduce the severity of substance use disorder symptoms.
Following the guidelines outlined while in our treatment program will help positively influence neurotransmitter balances and allow the brain neurochemical system to repair itself. Through the use of recovery-oriented skills and behaviors learned in therapy as well as addiction medicine physician prescribed medications when necessary, we facilitate the rebuilding and stabilization of the neurotransmitters functionality.