Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rebalancing the Brain

When we meet a patient for the first time at TCI for an accelerated opiate detox, our main focus is helping him or her detox from the drug of choice. Because Dr. Coleman has been doing this for many years, most detoxes go smoothly; in fact a patient recently described his experience as “an elegant detox”. It’s true—the techniques and medications have been tweaked and refined over many years, and our patients have a 99% completion rate. We know, however, that this is just the beginning of a new life for our patients.

A person who has been abusing opiates will have a brain very depleted in dopamine, the neurotransmitter that reigns in the pleasure center. Production of dopamine essentially shuts down after prolonged use of opiates. Often patients describe feelings of depression and exhaustion and boredom in the first few weeks after completing a detox.

Studies show that if a person can remain free of opiates, the dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain will return. How quickly the dopamine returns varies from person to person, and this is an area of growing interest to us.

Many treatment centers around the world are responding to patients’ interest in restoring health without depending solely on drugs. Instead they are focusing on an integrative approach that includes using the 12 Step model as well as replenishing the depleted neurotransmitters to rebalance the brain chemistry.

The Coleman Institute has relationships with such addiction treatment centers. All of our patients are assessed to determine aftercare treatment needs, and if this type of treatment following your detox is of interest to you, we can connect you with the appropriate people.

Be on the lookout later this week for a questionnaire to get an idea of how your own dopamine levels are looking. And as always, don’t hesitate to call if you or a loved one needs some help.

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