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Is Lifelong Addiction Recovery Possible?

By on Mar 1, 2024 in Addiction Recovery, Blog

Your close family member is dependent on drugs or alcohol. It’s taken over their life. Perhaps they started drinking in their teens. Now, 30 years later, they’re experiencing numerous health complications. Can a person with a lifelong addiction stop using substances? Can they maintain long-term recovery?

Many who have a lifetime of drug or alcohol use don’t believe they can or even should stop. However, addiction, even long-term addiction, is treatable. While there is no cure for addiction,  most people who seek treatment are able to stop using.

How the Brain Changes in Addiction

When you’ve used a substance for a long time, your brain changes. Consider alcohol – using it creates two different effects. It triggers the reward processing system of the brain that helps you feel happy, and it also reduces activity in other parts of the brain, temporarily calming anxiety and reducing stress. Because of these apparent benefits, the brain induces cravings so that it can keep having access to alcohol. 

By understanding how substances affect the brain, you can better understand why it’s so hard to stop using them. Quitting a substance would trigger an intense withdrawal response. In a person with alcohol use disorder, for example, the brain would manufacture symptoms of physical and psychological pain. Stress circuits would be activated, making you feel anxious or panicky. You would feel like you need the substance to feel “normal” again. 

How Can a Person with Lifelong Addiction Recover?

Addiction can change the way the brain thinks and feels. It impacts the way you behave and see the world. But one of the best things about the brain is its plasticity. That means the brain is capable of growing, changing, and learning in response to various stimuli. Over time, with different input and training, the brain can heal from the damage brought on by years of continued substance use. When you make the decision to get help, you gain control over your brain and overall health. Professional addiction treatment generally involves three steps:

Detoxing from substances

The first step is to stop using the substance. In a controlled medical detox center, you’ll be safe from any of the more dangerous withdrawal symptoms. You will still experience some discomfort, but doctors and nurses will monitor your condition 24/7 and use a combination of therapy and medication to help your body manage the withdrawal safely. Detoxing takes several days. Once you work through it, you will notice a significant change in the way you feel. Most importantly, your brain and body have begun to heal.

Behavioral healthcare

Recovery from addiction of any form requires behavioral therapy. The focus here is changing the way you think to avoid the onset of relapse. This is critical. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shares that 40 to 60% of people will relapse. The most effective way to avoid that is through the use of comprehensive, highly effective behavioral therapy.

With behavioral interventions, it’s possible to normalize the function of the brain, especially in the areas of stress and reward networks, allowing your brain to learn how to respond properly. You also learn how to live your daily life without the demand for substances.

Ongoing support

For people who have substance use disorders that have lasted for years, it’s scary to imagine a life without the substance. However, with ongoing support and therapy, you will be empowered to manage stress, overcome chronic pain, minimize frustration, and overcome the sensation that you need a drink or a pill. You’ll learn how to stay present in addiction recovery to support a better life.

Let Our Addiction Recovery Team Help You

Victory Addiction Recovery Center is a highly skilled drug and alcohol treatment center in Lafayette, LA, ready to help you. We offer support for people who have a lifetime of drug and alcohol use and who are ready to live with better health and an improved quality of life. Learn more about long-term drug addiction treatment by giving us a call.

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