The Process Of Healing The Addicted Brain: NeurotransmittersDr. Collins
At Artesian Wellness we believe that the best approach to treating addiction is to provide you with an overall wellness method. At our centers we treat not only addiction but other forms of illnesses like mental health problems, emotional struggles and even those who are fighting through diseases like diabetes. For now however we’d like to share with you some of the information and methods that we use to help heal those who are fighting through a substance addiction.
First, it’s important to understand that our goal is to heal the addicted brain. One of the methods we use to help jump start this process is a neurotransmitter assessment. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in our brain that transmit information from one brain cell to another. This is particularly important for those who have struggled with addiction. Substance abuse causes damage to the brain cells that are responsible for producing neurotransmitters, causing them to either under or over produce those signals. This imbalance can cause serious problems.
We start to identify these problems by doing a neurotransmitter assessment as a part of our Neuro Optimum Program, during which we ask a series of questions. These questions allow us to understand what is going on with the client at that moment.
Check the Serotonin level, key neurotransmitter
One of the most well-known neuro-transmitters is serotonin. Serotonin helps to control a great deal of the emotional welfare of a person. It can influence the sleep cycle, but it can also impact the way you handle things, and your general personality. For example, serotonin levels help to define how controlling you are. Extremely controlling people may suffer from a disorder called obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as OCD. OCD is closely related to the level of serotonin that you have, often pointing to a deficit. One really good and well-known example of obsessive compulsive disorder can be seen in the television show Hoarders. People who have the obsessive compulsive need to hoard items are generally suffering from a serotonin deficit.
Amino Acids Impact
The next step in helping to heal the addicted brain after identifying the imbalances in neuro-transmitters for us is to work with amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and as such help to repair and rebuild tissue. We administer amino acids through an IV, because we feel that it goes straight to the brain and helps to quickly stop the damage, and start repairing and healing the brain. This gives our clients the ability to start producing serotonin at the right levels.
Amino acids don’t only impact serotonin however; they can also help to aid with other neuro-transmitters. Dopamine for example, addicts, who use drugs like cocaine, crack and methamphetamines are impacting their dopamine. Some people do this in an effort to self-medicate, as these drugs increase dopamine but only offer a very short term and temporary gain. Dopamine is the neuro-transmitter that makes you feel good, if you have a normal level of dopamine you’re going to have a natural sense of wellbeing, this helps you to set goals for yourself. This is also the neurotransmitter that helps us to stay motivated to meet those goals.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid in action
Another important neurotransmitter is Gamma-aminobutyric acid also known as GABA. This particular neurotransmitter is related to anxiety. Often people who have been through something traumatic, or a loss will find themselves turning to their doctor or psychiatrist and start a prescription for something like Xanax, or Valium these are two examples of benzo-diazepam medications that are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety. Unfortunately these types of medications are extremely addictive. Addiction with these prescriptions can happen quickly, even in just a couple of weeks.
After you become addicted to a benzo-diazepam medication it is difficult to sleep without it, and withdrawal starts to happen in a shorter amount of time between doses. This withdrawal and addiction can cause anxiety worse than they had when they started the medication in the first place; some people even report feeling like they simply cannot make it without their medication.
This is where we come in. We help them to repair the GABA neurotransmitter that causes the anxiety in the first place. We do this through all the processes we have talked about for the other neurotransmitters but also with a combination of therapy to help them work through the issues that cause the anxiety in the first place.
Endorphins Are Important
The next neurotransmitter we’d like to help you to better understand is also commonly known, endorphins. Endorphins are the feel good neurotransmitters; these are the ones that are on high alert when you do something like go out on a first date. Endorphins are released when you are excited or feeling happy about something. Painkillers that are commonly prescribed for things like back pain can interrupt the body’s endorphins and cause them to not work properly. This can create an emotional addiction to them, as well as the physical addiction.
As you can see neurotransmitters are intricately connected to our overall sense of wellbeing and how we function as a whole. We believe that by treating these deficiencies we can truly help to heal the addicted brain and help addicts to recovery fully. Being aware of the person as a whole, and seeing where the neurotransmitters are lacking gives us the ability to help in ways that more traditional treatment centers cannot.