You might have heard that addiction changes the brain—but can the brain recover after you remove substances? The rate and level at which it recovers depends on the substance you used, the severity of your use, the length of time you were in active addiction, your age, and a number of other factors. However, the bottom line is that the brain can heal.
One study took MRI scans of people in recovery from alcohol use disorder over the first seven and a half months of sobriety; they found that alcohol abstinence increases brain volume in the frontal lobe, a part of the brain responsible for higher-level cognitive functioning and decision-making. Another study noted new cell growth in the brain after just four to five weeks of sobriety from alcohol.
According to the Recovery Research Institute, “Other research has found that number of days abstinent from alcohol was associated with improved executive functioning, larger cerebellar volumes, and improved short-term memory.”
It’s not only damage from alcohol that can be reversed; the brain can heal from other types of drug use as well. For instance, brain scans of patients one month after quitting meth look very different from those of people without addiction; after 14 months, the two scans look nearly the same. One study found that the brains of people recovering from heroin looked different from those of controls after three days of abstinence, but similar a month later.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, you can heal. Amatus Recovery Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. We will help you not only come off substances, but build a great life in recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.