Let’s face it. Addiction is a complicated, twisted beast that confuses many and is a lifelong battle for others. Addiction is largely a physiological disorder with roots in genetics and neurochemistry. To truly understand what is addiction, one must understand a bit about what is going on within the neurotransmitters of the brain.

Beating addiction - Crushed drugs mortar and pestle

What exactly are neurotransmitters?

Neurotransmitters and their functions are dynamic, having a huge impact on our thinking, our feelings, and our perceptions.

Our brain has individual neurotransmitter systems that are interdependent, actually communicating with one another. When people use illicit drugs or medications that affect one system, inevitably the other systems that are connected will adjust themselves in some reactionary balance to the change. The brain has numerous Neurotransmitter systems that work much like a sovereign nation functions separately yet is influenced by the other nations of the world. Each of these systems of neurons communicates using its own language and functions first independently and then as part of a network of systems.

man pouring medication into his hand - beating addiction

A trained neurotransmitter analysis expert, is able to understand the complexities of these complicated systems and then better comprehend the needs of the different neurotransmitter deficiencies and imbalances and appropriately prescribe medication that not only helps to regulate these imbalances but also doesn’t worsen the effects of someone battling addiction.

How does understanding the brains functions help me?

Being able to fully comprehend the complicated world of the brain and the neurochemical imbalances that are involved with it will allow us to better approach the treatment of ourselves and our loved ones who are suffering from brain imbalances and addiction and how we react to different situations.

Many people inherit deficiencies in their brain’s neurotransmitter systems. These deficiencies result in various symptoms, for example, one of these symptoms is depression. The symptoms of a particular deficiency an individual inherits can be temporarily relieved by alcohol, or another drug, depending on which neurotransmitter system the deficiency lies. Now, you can begin to see how the brain’s unsurpassed desire for a state of equilibrium can become a problem for many who have caused damage and imbalances due to excessive exposure to the effects of alcohol or drugs.

Man trying to beat addiction sitting sadly in a dark alley with a hoodie on

That means some individuals, those with these neurotransmitter deficiencies, are more inclined to become addicted to these drugs and alcohol. Most people drink, feel a temporary buzz, and then go back to feeling normal. Others, drink, feel that buzz, and then feel worse than normal, thus the reason the drink starts to look more and more appealing. Is their brains desire to achieve that state of balance and satisfaction once again. There are drugs, both prescription and illicit, that have a similar affect.

In order to successfully reverse these addictions, doctors must take into consideration these neurochemical imbalances, correcting them with safe, non-addictive medications. Though my methods of explanation provide a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of how the brain functions (especially in reaction to medications and illicit drugs), there are caveats to this approach. One must remember that there is more complexity underneath this new conceptual approach to the study of the brain. You can learn more about these methods in Brain In Balance: Understanding the Genetics and Neurochemistry behind Addiction and Sobriety. Be sure to get your copy and let me know what you thought in the comments below!