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Session 13: Addiction & the Brain; Stages of Recovery

The Brain Disease

Saying goodbye to crystal entails experiencing many changes, not only in your life, but in your body and brain. An important part of the recovery process is learning about the impact crystal meth has on your brain chemistry, and how those brain processes affect you in recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines drug addiction as a brain disease. Twelve­step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Crystal Meth Anonymous define addiction as a threefold disease: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Both definitions are helpful to people in recovery.

Physical recovery (care for the addicted brain) must be addressed first. Only after the physical recovery is under way can your emotional and spiritual needs be addressed. The following description will make the concept of addiction as a brain disease clearer:

Information travels around the brain through a series of electrical and chemical processes. Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, carry signals from one neuron to another by crossing the space, or synapse, between neurons. Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter involved with the brai reward system which is what makes us feel good. Her how methamphetamine affects the process: It produces its effects by causing extra dopamine and norepinephrine to be

released into the synapse in several areas of the brain.

Once in the synapse, the high concentration of dopamine leads to feelings of pleasure and euphoria. The excess norepinephrine may be responsible for the alertness and anti­fatigue effects of methamphetamine.



Session 13: Addiction & the Brain; Stages of Recovery


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