brain to heal from alcohol

How Long Does it Take for Your Brain to Heal from Alcohol?

Recovery is a beautiful thing. It is a fact that even someone with a lengthy history of alcoholism can regain brain health in recovery, reversing years of damage to brain structures, volume, and functioning. Even after only six months, the individual in recovery will experience significant restoration of brain health.

In fact, even two weeks of abstinence will reveal a reversal of brain damage, according to a study out of Stanford University. The focus of the study was on volume loss caused by alcohol abuse, which is associated

Several factors may influence how long it takes for the brain to heal from alcohol addiction. These include the number of prior detoxifications, if the individual is a smoker, or if he or she has a strong family prevalence of alcoholism. These factors can slow down or prevent a complete brain recovery.

For someone considering getting treatment for an alcohol use disorder, it is encouraging to learn that not only will the individual experience improvements across the board in psychological and physical health, but their brain health will recover, too. These kinds of results will only be experienced when the individual complies with continuing care efforts and remains sober, but knowing that it is possible for the brain to heal from alcohol addiction is a powerful motivator.

How Alcoholism Affects Brain Health

Chronic alcohol abuse has deleterious effects on the brain. The brain matter volume literally shrinks as a result of alcoholism. In addiction, there can be an increase of cerebrospinal fluid. Along with the loss of volume in the insula and cingulate cortex, are other neuropsychological effects, also known as alcohol-related cognitive impairment, such as difficulty concentrating, memory loss, and even increased impulsivity.

Individuals with a serious alcohol use disorder experience changes in the frontal lobe, where executive functions like decision-making and self-control are regulated. The cerebellum is also affected by alcohol abuse, which is the region that contributes to controlling and coordinating muscle movements. Additionally, alcohol dependency can slow brain cell development and accelerate dementia.

5 Ways the Brain Heals from Alcohol Addiction

MRI imaging reveals the rapid restoration of brain volume in studies that measure brain scan results from participants of which half are in early alcohol recovery, starting 24-hours after detox, and half who had little exposure to alcohol. The increase in the cerebellum region was nearly completely restored after 14 days of abstinence.

Although the impact of chronic alcohol consumption on the brain is significant, the brain has an amazing ability to regenerate following abstinence from alcohol. This encouraging news is tempered somewhat by the fact that not all brain damage will be immediately restored, and that some effects of alcohol abuse on the brain may have permanent effects. However, the brain has an amazing capacity to heal. Some of the ways the brain heals from alcohol addiction include:

  1. Brain volume is restored. A dramatic increase in brain matter volume occurs within 2 weeks of abstinence from alcohol, as has been shown on brain imaging tests.
  2. New cell growth. While some brain cell destruction is permanent, sustained abstinence results in new brain cell growth in the hippocampus.
  3. Improved motor skills. Executing a motor skill toward a predetermined movement outcome is a brain function that improves with sobriety.
  4. Improved visual-spatial abilities. While visual-spatial abilities will not recover completely there is some improvement with long-term abstinence.
  5. Improved cognitive abilities. As the brain heals, cognitive functions, such as short-term and long-term memory, and most executive functions are improved.

Recovery of such behaviors as sustained attention span and other neurocognitive functions may take longer to rebound.

Other Benefits of Sobriety

Renewed brain health isn’t the only benefit enjoyed in sobriety. Some of the other positive effects associated with early recovery include:

  • Improved mood. Alcoholism often coexists with the symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The impact of alcohol on the brain creates emotional instability, and the negative life consequences due to alcoholism only enhance feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety. After a month or two in recovery an improvement in mood along with a renewed sense of purpose are quite common.
  • You just feel better. Alcohol is a toxic substance that can do serious damage to major organs. High daily consumption results in hangovers and nausea, and a general feeling of illness as the disease progresses. By abstaining from alcohol the body eliminates the associated toxins and the brain will stabilize. After a few months of sobriety the individual may feel more energetic and focused as the body begins to function optimally again.
  • Better appearance. Alcohol abuse has a dehydrating effect that can leave us look old and tired, as the body is unable to produce new cells at a normal rate. Inflammation caused by alcohol can cause a reddish skin tone. In sobriety the individual will notice an improvement in the overall appearance of their skin as collagen levels are restored to normal.
  • Better sleep. People may be under the misunderstanding that alcohol will assist with sleep. Alcohol is a sedative and may help someone fall asleep faster, but its effects in the bloodstream will disrupt the third and fourth phases of the sleep cycle, impacting the circadian rhythm and causing sleep disturbance. Sustained sobriety has the positive affect of better sleep quality, a key component of achieving overall wellness.
  • Weight loss. Alcohol is high in sugar content and calories, therefore alcohol abuse is often associated with weight gain and bloating. Individuals with a moderate to severe alcohol use disorder may also begin to adopt an unhealthy diet. This combination of high alcohol intake and poor diet can lead to extra pounds, liver distention, and water retention. When eliminating alcohol consumption from the daily caloric intake, facial features becoming more defined, your belly flattens, and a trimmer overall appearance will result.

Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder

An alcohol use disorder is defined as the excessive consumption of alcohol to the point that it begins to negatively impact health, quality of life, and daily functioning. Sometimes it can take years for an alcohol habit to begin to reveal negative consequence. It is always best to recognize the warning signs of an alcohol use disorder early on so appropriate steps can be taken to proactively obtain professional help.

Some of the signs of an alcohol problem include:

  • Increased tolerance to alcohol, leading to higher alcohol consumption in an effort to experience the initial desirable effects
  • Neglecting daily responsibilities, such as parenting obligations or paying bills
  • Lying to others about how much you drink, hiding alcohol around the house, in the car, or at work
  • Isolating from friends and family so one can drink in private
  • Becoming obsessive about having alcohol available, looking forward to drinking, seeking excuses to drink
  • Experiencing problems at work, declining work performance, termination from job
  • Legal problems, such as DUI or child custody challenges
  • Negatively impacting interpersonal relationships
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Attempting to stop drinking but cannot
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is withheld

Getting Help for Alcoholism

The road to restoring brain health and general wellness begins with the completion of a medically supervised detox program and commitment to addiction treatment. Following the detox the individual in recovery will need an extended period of professional treatment to acquire new behaviors and recovery skills designed to help them remain sober. Treatment programs are available in either an outpatient or a residential setting. The level of care that is appropriate is determined by the severity of the alcohol use disorder.

During the treatment phase of recovery the individual will participate in a variety of treatment activities and therapies that approach all aspects of alcoholism recovery. These interventions include:

  • Psychotherapy, which allows the individual to explore underlying emotional issues or past traumas that may be a contributing factor.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which guides the individual toward adopting new thought patterns that replace the dysfunction patterns that have fueled the alcohol abuse.
  • Group therapy, which provides opportunities for individuals in recovery to gain mutual peer support and learn new recovery skills.
  • Family-based therapy helps family members to process and heal their frustrations, emotions, and fears while learning new ways to relate.
  • Medication management using naltrexone can help recovering alcoholics manage cravings, which can reduce the risk of relapse.
  • Relapse prevention planning, which encourages the individual to examine their unique triggers and stressors that might disrupt recovery and lead to relapse.
  • 12-step meetings or similar programming, which provide social support and opportunities for leadership and making new sober friends.
  • Holistic therapies that can assist in regulating stress, such as yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, practicing mindfulness, and art therapy can enhance the effects of traditional therapy as promote relaxation.
  • Nutritional counseling and exercise, which can help build a healthy lifestyle and promote physical and emotional healing.

Anyone who desires to take back control of their life and enter into recovery from alcoholism should be encouraged by the improvements in brain health, mood, physical health, and quality of life that result from a commitment to sobriety.

Ken Seeley Communities Trusted Resources for Alcohol Recovery Treatment

Ken Seeley Communities is a leader in the field of addiction recovery. Founder Ken Seeley is a renowned professional interventionist who was featured regularly on the A&E series, Intervention. His recovery center provides all levels of treatment for the recovery continuum, including intervention services, medical detox, outpatient rehab programming, residential rehab programming, and sober living housing. If you are ready to address an alcohol use disorder and allow your brain to heal from alcohol addiction, please reach out to Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.

 

long term addiction treatment

Long Term Addiction Treatment Facilities

6 Benefits of a Residential Addiction Treatment Program

We humans have been groomed to expect instant results in every facet of our lives. We seek expediency wherever we can find it, whether it’s the highest speed Internet service, the quickest Prime shipments on Amazon, or a swift weight loss program. We want it all, and we want it now. But there are certain things that cannot be rushed, that is, if you want to enjoy a lasting outcome, and addiction recovery is one of those things. For individuals with a deeply ingrained drug or alcohol addiction, a short-term rehab simply will not produce the lasting recovery one is seeking or needing.

When chemical dependency on a substance of abuse develops, the brain has become accustomed to the daily delivery of the substance and has adjusted its own natural chemistry accordingly. These new neural pathways bypass the brain’s normal production of dopamine, for instance, relying instead on the drug of choice to provide the flood of dopamine as usual. This is one reason why a long-term history of alcohol or drug addiction makes a swift recovery impossible. It takes time to normalize brain chemistry and central nervous system functions after discontinuing drug or alcohol use.

Addictive behavior patterns are another reason why a long-term rehab is needed. While in active addiction, the trigger produces the thought that one will suffer unless they acquire and use the substance of choice, so the destructive behavioral response, to drink or use, is then activated. These reflexive patterns have become so entrenched that it takes an extended period of time to replace them with new, healthy, and productive thought/behavior patterns.

While outpatient rehab services are an excellent option for individuals with an emerging or recent substance use disorder, these programs do not offer the oversight needed for individuals with moderate to severe addiction status. Outpatient programs provide flexibility and freedom that, for someone deeply addicted, offers too many temptations that can trigger relapse.

Why Long Term Addiction Treatment Facilities Are the Best Option

Long term addiction treatment facilities offer a much better environment for individuals with established addiction histories. The length of the stay will be determined during the intake interview and assessment process, and may be anywhere from one month to a year in length depending on the addiction information obtained. Here are 6 reasons why long term addiction treatment facilities are the more appropriate setting for individuals with a lengthy history of addiction, a dual diagnosis, or a poly-drug substance disorder:

  1. Structure. A predictable daily schedule is beneficial for someone in early recovery. Residential rehabs offer a full daily schedule of therapies and activities, in addition to meal times, recreational time, and down time. This creates less stress for the clients, knowing their days are full and they will be busy, which helps them focus on recovery and dwell less on cravings or romanticized addiction activities.
  2. 24-hour supervision. Residential rehabs provide round-the-clock monitoring of clients, reducing the opportunities for the clients to engage in drug-seeking or sneaky behaviors that will sabotage recovery. There are clinicians, psychotherapists, addiction specialists, and personnel to keep clients supervised throughout the day.
  3. Comprehensive programming. An inpatient setting has the time available to offer a multitude of recovery programming. This includes individual therapy, group therapy, addiction education classes, life skills classes, family counseling, 12-step meetings, guest speakers, and holistic therapies.
  4. Peer support. Having people around you that understand your struggles because they have the same ones is comforting to clients in recovery. With a shared experience and with aligned recovery goals, the clients can provide social support for each other. In the inpatient setting, new friendships are often established as a result of this shared experience.
  5. Removed from environment. By leaving one’s home community and staying for an extended period in rehab clients are much more able to focus on the work of recovery. Daily stressors, triggers, and obligations do not invade the rehab environment, allowing clients to concentrate on getting healthy and restoring overall wellness.
  6. Fitness and nutrition. An essential part of the recovery process is restoring health. Active addiction tends to put nutrition and fitness on the back burner, often leaving clients with nutritional deficiencies, health conditions, and unfit bodies. By spending a period of time in a residential program, the client has time to establish new healthy habits and routines that benefit overall wellbeing.

Continuing Care Following Long Term Residential Rehab

An often-neglected component of the recovery process is planning what happens after discharge from a long-term residential program. Clients may be anxious to return to their home community and shirk the recommendations of the therapists to continue on with aftercare services, to their peril. Early recovery is a very vulnerable phase that should be carefully prepared for.

Continuing care services allow the client to shore up sobriety and practice recovery tools while still under the care of addiction recovery professionals. It is a mistake to believe one can go it alone right after rehab. Many clients find themselves overwhelmed by the return to freedom and may expose themselves to triggers or people who are not supportive of their recovery. This can lead to relapse, and in the case of an opioid addiction, this can prove deadly.

Plans should be made to follow up the residential rehab program with the following continuing care services:

  • Sober living housing. Spending a few months in sober living increases the sustainability of recovery during the early months.
  • Ongoing outpatient counseling. By continuing to receive support from an outpatient therapist or group therapy session, clients can work through some of the challenges experienced in early recovery.
  • 12-step recovery group. Participating in a 12-step or non 12-step recovery community offers ongoing social support.

Ken Seeley Communities Offers Long Term Addiction Treatment Facilities

Ken Seeley Communities and Rehab is a leading provider of long-term residential rehab in Palm Springs, California. In addition to offering residential detox and residential programming, Ken Seeley also provides day treatment programs, outpatient treatment, and intervention services. For more information, please contact Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.

naltrexone alcohol

Naltrexone Alcohol Addiction Recovery Support

Alcoholism can steal everything good in a person’s life. It can also steal life itself. About 7% of the adult population, or approximately 15 million people struggle with alcohol addiction or dependency, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Wellness Services Administration. Those who are included in these statistics have likely suffered numerous negative consequences due to the alcohol problem. Although many may desire to stop drinking, their efforts may have been unsuccessful.

Naltrexone alcoholism treatment has been shown to offer hope to individuals committed to overcoming their alcohol dependence. Naltrexone is included in a collection of drugs referred to as medication-assisted treatment, which provides recovery support through the use of the drug along with adjunctive psychotherapy and medication management. For someone who is motivated to achieve a life of sustained sobriety, naltrexone may be an essential tool in obtaining this goal.

About Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcoholism starts off as alcohol abuse, excessive alcohol consumption that can precede the development of a chemical dependence on alcohol. If heeding the warning signs of a developing alcohol addiction, the individual can proactively take the steps necessary to change their drinking behaviors before addiction and dependence set in.

In fact, someone with an emerging or mild AUD may still have some control over the substance. These motivated individuals may be able to incrementally cut back on alcohol over a period of time until they are fully abstinent. To support this effort, attending 12-step meetings, embracing a sober lifestyle, and receiving outpatient therapy may result in a positive outcome.

When alcohol use becomes problematic, even in the early stages, it is called an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Depending on how many of the diagnostic symptoms are experienced in a one-year period, the AUD is assessed as mild, moderate, or severe. Generally, the longer the alcohol abuse has lasted the greater the chance that brain pathways have been altered and the more difficult the road to recovery.

The 11 criteria for identifying an AUD include the following questions:

  • Have you had occasions where you drank more or longer than intended?
  • Have you attempted to cut back or stop drinking, on more than one occasion, but couldn’t?
  • Do you spend a lot of time drinking or recovering from its aftereffects?
  • Do you experience alcohol cravings?
  • Has your alcohol use caused you to neglect family obligations, or caused problems at work or in school?
  • Have you continued to consume alcohol regardless of these problems?
  • Have you lost interest in, or discontinued, activities or hobbies you once enjoyed?
  • Have you engaged in high risk behaviors due to alcohol consumption?
  • Do you continue to drink even with it causing mental wellness or medical problems or a blackout?
  • Have you increased your alcohol consumption to achieve the initial effects once experienced?
  • Do you experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when the effects of the alcohol are wearing off?

Answering yes to 2 or 3 questions indicates a mild AUD, 4 or 5 yes answers indicates a moderate AUD, and 6 or more indicates a severe AUD.

About Naltrexone

Naltrexone was FDA approved in 1994 to help treat alcohol dependency, and in 2010 it was approved for treating opioid dependency. Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Vivitrol and ReVia, and Depade, each with its own delivery method. As an opioid antagonist, naltrexone can block the pleasurable effects of alcohol in the reward center of the brain. As a result, the desire or temptation to use the substance is greatly diminished, reducing the risk of relapse. Naltrexone is available in a daily pill form, as a monthly time-release injection, and as a pellet implant that can last for months.

MAT is a short-term intervention, designed to help the individual during the early stages of recovery avoid relapse, with scheduled tapering off of the naltrexone about three to six months into recovery, although some may continue on naltrexone for longer periods. Over this period the MAT helps manage cravings until there is no real motivation for the individual to drink alcohol. Naltrexone is generally well tolerated with no potential for addiction, as it is not a narcotic.

Naltrexone Clinical Trials Demonstrate Efficacy

When the American Psychiatric Association developed clinical practice guidelines regarding the use of naltrexone for treating AUD their discernment was based on clinical trial data, as well as researching the balance of benefits versus harm. The APA concluded that the drug is a suitable intervention for treating moderate to severe AUD in patients who had been unable to avoid relapse following a period of abstinence.

Clinical evidence of efficacy is available through a large number of randomized controlled trials that studied the effects of naltrexone on study participants. A multisite study called COMBINE enrolled 1,383 participants with AUD and concluded that, when combined with ongoing counseling and good compliance that naltrexone reduced consumption and increased abstinence.

Naltrexone Side Effects

Over the years that naltrexone has been in use it has been studied carefully through clinical trials. In general, naltrexone is considered to be a safe treatment element for moderate to severe AUD with relatively minor side effects. Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Chills
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Poor appetite
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Rash
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety

Medical Detox for Alcoholism

A medical detox is the first step in the recovery journey, and can be one of the biggest obstacles to initiating treatment for an alcohol use disorder. This is due to the harsh, sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can arise during alcohol detox. For this reason, individuals are cautioned never to approach detox without obtaining medical supervision. During detox the detox specialists will provide the necessary medications to minimize many of the withdrawal symptoms, and guide the individual safely through the process. In addition, the detox professionals offer important psychological support to encourage the individual to persevere.

Detox and withdrawal is usually completed within one week, although the severity of symptoms and length of detox duration depends on the length of history of chronic alcohol consumption, levels of consumption, age of the individual, general health status of the individual, and whether there are other substance use disorders present.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin to emerge within 6-12 hours after the last drink:

 

  • Stage 1: The first stage of detox lasts about one day and includes such symptoms as shaking, headache, nausea and vomiting, irritability, sweating, and insomnia.

 

  • Stage 2: The second stage of detox lasts about 2 days and includes more acute symptoms, such as hand tremors, anxiety, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, seizures. There is a small risk of the individual developing the delirium tremens (the DTs) on days 3-4, which may necessitate emergency medical intervention.
  • Stage 3: The final stage of detox lasts several days and features subsiding withdrawal symptoms, lingering depression, and fatigue.

Alcoholism Treatment

Professional treatment for alcohol dependence should be a multi-disciplinary program that integrates therapy, 12-step participation, and naltrexone for qualified candidates.  This three-part approach to treating alcoholism, combined with a highly motivated individual, can be very effective in breaking free from the addiction. Here is how the treatment elements work together:

  • Psychotherapy. This mainstay component of alcoholism recovery helps the individual resolve underlying issues including life traumas, a co-occurring mental wellness condition, or unresolved emotional pain revolving around a failed relationship, death of a loved one, loss of a job, divorce, or any significant negative event. An evidence-based therapy that has been shown to be effective in addiction treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT addresses the kneejerk actions by the client after experiencing a stressful event or trigger, resulting in drinking. CBT helps them to adopt a more positive mindset and new healthy solutions and responses.
  • 12-step program (or similar non 12-step program). Peer recovery communities have been found to be an important resource for clients in recovery from alcoholism. The meetings provide a safe and supportive space for sharing and learning amongst the members. A sponsor can help the client by providing a backstop support resource during times of weakness. Both the sponsor and the peer group increase accountability, where the client feels beholden to work the steps and become stronger.
  • Naltrexone alcohol therapy. Naltrexone alcohol recovery support helps develop new brain pathways that no longer associate alcohol with pleasure. Cravings are reduced or eliminated through ongoing naltrexone therapy, and if the client slips up they will not experience the pleasurable high they had anticipated. Over time, the client will lose the desire to drink, which reduces the risk of relapse.
  • Aftercare. Recovery from alcoholism is an ongoing process therefore aftercare planning is an important aspect of the overall outcome. Aftercare measures can include sober housing for several months following treatment while the new sober lifestyle takes root. Other continuing care efforts should include continued participation in recovery meetings and attending weekly therapy sessions.

Naltrexone can improve the recovery success results for the individual seeking to live a life of sobriety and wellness.

Ken Seeley Communities Offers Naltrexone Alcoholism Recovery Support

Ken Seeley Communities provides a wide range of addiction treatment services, including intervention services, medical detox, outpatient programming, residential rehab, and sober living housing. Nestled in a beautiful and serene desert setting in Palm Springs, California, Ken Seeley Communities offers an effective blend of evidence-based psychotherapies, complementary holistic therapies, and a sense of community that helps foster a new healthy life in recovery. Ken Seeley has a long career in the field of addiction recovery, and is well known for his appearances on A&E’s Intervention series. For more information about our alcohol addiction treatment services, please reach out to us today at (877) 744-0502.