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Can MRI Scans Help Us Understand Addiction?

graphic representing brain in mri scan

People with addictions were once seen as having an innate personality flaw, weak morals, or a lack of self-control.  Thanks to years of research and exciting new technology, we are now uncovering the ways in which addiction truly operates in the brain. This information is useful for ending the stigma surrounding addiction, as well as informing the ways in which we provide treatment for those with substance abuse disorders.  Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) we can study the brains of addicted people before, during, and after treatment. This data may even be used to customize treatment for the individual, and predict vulnerability to relapse.   Prolonged exposure to drugs or alcohol changes the brain.  The reward system that prompts compulsive behavior and cravings is over-stimulated in the brain of an addict.  Treatment involving therapy and, in some cases, medication, is usually required to reverse the effects of addiction on the brain.  MRIs can be used on an addicted person to assess brain activity as they are exposed to various stimuli and triggers. Over time, this process can determine the effectivity of treatment, and point to where changes may need to be made.  Essentially, MRIs can be used as a diagnostic tool to help addiction recovery providers cater to the needs of each individual patient. On a larger scale, MRIs can help us understand the process of addiction and how it changes the brain over time.  Although a lot of progress has been made regarding the science of addiction, there is still much to learn. With a more accurate picture of how addiction forms, why it forms in some more than others, and what we can do to reverse it, we may be able to prevent many lives from being ruined going forward.  For now, the most important piece of information is the fact that addiction is a disease that can happen to anyone, and the best way to beat it is to seek professional help.

At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.