A man wondering, "What part of the brain causes addiction?"

Addiction is a complex disease impacting the function of the brain. The part of the brain that causes addiction is called the mesolimbic dopamine pathway. It is sometimes called the reward circuit of the brain. Let’s take a deeper look into the causes of addiction and how this area of the brain is impacted.

Addiction can have a devastating effect on the brain. Not only can it change the way the brain functions, but it can also damage the cells. Over time, this can lead to problems with memory, decision making, and emotional control. It can also increase your risk for other mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, it's important to get help. There are many treatment options available, and with the right support, you can overcome addiction and reclaim your life.

At San Antonio Recovery Center, we focus on more than just treating the symptoms you have. Addiction therapy services dive deep to ensure what’s causing your addiction is treated properly. If you need to know more about a drug and alcohol rehab program, call us today at 866.957.7885.

The Brain and Addiction

As the most complex organ in the body, the brain can be hard to understand, especially from a viewpoint of addiction. It works much like an intricate computer. The brain is made up of cells called neurons that are organized into circuits and networks. The neurons act as a type of switch that helps with the flow of information. When neurons receive signals from other neurons, it fires, and that sends out a new signal. Each of these circuits works together to achieve goals. Every function you complete requires these networks of neurons to work properly.

In order to send a message, the neurons release a neurotransmitter into the gap between the neuron spaces. This neurotransmitter attaches to receptors on the other neurons. When that happens, the receiving cell changes.

When it comes to addiction, the circuits involved are primarily the reward system and the stress system. The reward system is responsible for providing pleasurable feelings in response to things that are good for you, like eating or engaging in sexual relations. The stress system is responsible for helping you deal with threats and dangers. When these two systems are activated at the same time, it can create an addictive cycle. The reward system will release dopamine, which is a chemical that makes you feel good. The stress system will release cortisol, which is a hormone that makes you feel bad. This combination creates a powerful urge to keep using the substance or behavior.

What Part of The Brain Causes Addiction?

When these complex systems are interfered with, changes happen in several areas of the brain:

  • Basal ganglia – In this area of the brain, which is essential for positive motivation, the drugs trigger the reward circuit. This area of the brain affects healthy activities and those that create pleasure. When drugs overact this area, they create a sense of high. When this happens numerous times, the reward circuit adapts to the drug. That means it’s hard to feel any pleasure without the drug.
  • Extended amygdala – This area of the brain processes anxiety and unease. It is typically the place where withdrawal symptoms stem when the drug high fades. With drug use, this area becomes more sensitive.
  • Prefrontal cortex – This area of the brain is responsible for planning, thinking, and solving problems. It is in this area of the brain that compulsive activity happens due to a reduction in impulse control.

You Can Gain Control and Improve The Function of The Brain

The brain and addiction may be complex, but there is help available. Researchers have developed a better understanding of the way the brain learns and changes. As a result, using therapy, medications, and the right supportive structure, it’s possible to get the brain back to working normally again.

This is best done in a treatment program like the one we offer at San Antonio Recovery Center. Here, you’ll work to overcome the challenges you face with withdrawal and cravings while also working to resolve the underlying cause of addiction. We do this through a number of programs, including:

  • Intensive outpatient program
  • Aftercare treatment program
  • 90-day treatment programs

Let The Team at San Antonio Recovery Center Provide Help Today

It’s not always clear what the causes of addiction are. It may be more important to reach out for help now to get on the path to long-term recovery. That’s where we can help you. Call San Antonio Recovery Center now to learn more about the resources we offer and learn how you can access care that restores your well-being. Reach out to our affordable treatment center by calling 866.957.7885 or connect with us now online.

Now is the time to focus on your recovery.


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