Substance abuse and misuse quite literally changes the chemistry of the brain. The mechanisms that create a type of “communication” between different parts of the brain are severely impacted and as a result, begin to function abnormally. Primarily, substance abuse and misuse create the overproduction of a chemical called dopamine, which acts as a messenger system for the experiences related to joy and happiness. When the brain experiences these chemically induced and increased levels of dopamine, it views this experience as rewarding and recognizes that the substances are the catalyst to that reward. When a person is abusing or misusing substances, they are literally “training” their brain to regularly seek those rewards through consumption of whatever chemical it finds “most” rewarding.
When entering a life in recovery or finding sobriety, we have to start retraining our brains. We have to help our brain find new avenues of reward, as pleasure is an integral part of the human experience and without it, we would be unlikely to remain in sobriety. I life without joy, pleasure, and happiness is not an attractive option, and definitely not your only option if living a life of sobriety. When you have fun in sobriety, you are directly impacting those “habits” the brain formed from abusing substances. This rewiring process begins to heal your brain and return it to a normal, healthier level of function. The more fun you have, the more your brain heals. The more your brain heals, the more you will start to enjoy your newfound life of sobriety.