Does the Brain Heal After Years of Substance Abuse?
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. That’s great news for people in early recovery who may be concerned about feeling “in a funk.” It gets better. Your brain does eventually heal itself.
This neuroplasticity or “brain plasticity” is the more recent discovery that gray matter can actually shrink or thicken; neural connections can be forged and refined or weakened and severed. Changes in the physical brain manifest as changes in our abilities. For example, each time we learn a new dance step, it reflects a change in our physical brains: new “wires” (neural pathways) that give instructions to our bodies on how to perform the step.
But there are practical things you can do to help speed the process up. Roc & Doc talk more about it in this latest episode.
A common concern for people recovering from active addiction is the worry that they’ll never feel like they once did. Like they’re consigned to a foggy existence. It’s the fear that they’ve irreparably damaged the sense of being totally in touch with the fullness of their feelings.
Roc shares his personal experience with this fear early on and his journey out of the funk.
So the good news is that there’s hope. Doc talks about practical things you can do to assist the process of neuroplasticity along, like exercise and eating right.