The Neuroplasticity Debate: Addiction Treatment Vs. Making Choices

Neuroplasticity is the brain tissue’s ability to grow, change and adapt. The brain has the ability to record thought patterns and repetition of movements. Some people believe this creates cravings and interest in drugs and alcohol for those who have used these substances before. When it comes to drug and alcohol use, there are some programs that believe neuroplasticity steers an individual into an unbroken pattern which cannot be altered or changed. They dub the behavior an addiction or an illness, and refer to themselves as drug rehabilitation centers or alcohol addiction treatment facilities. These programs believe that new neuroplastic paths cannot be created and used in lieu of the old ones.

However, at Saint Jude Retreats, we disagree based on the facts. We have viewed reliable scientific studies that prove when a person’s thoughts consciously take a different path and break the cycle, the brain is capable of making different neuronal paths. The more frequently these thought paths are followed, the easier it becomes for an individual to follow them because the brain tissue adapts to those repetitious thought patterns. It is possible to change behavior through neuroplasticity, turning away from the decisions and thought paths that entice people to use drugs and alcohol in a problematic way and creating new ones that lead behavior to another self created path.

While addiction is readily accepted by society, it has not been fully explained by those in drug and alcohol treatment centers how behaviors can be relearned through Neuroplasticity. At Saint Jude Retreats, we know that each of us think and make decisions – sometimes counterproductive ones – but decisions nonetheless. It is for this reason that the brain can learn new behaviors based on our thoughts and choices and thusly, each person has the ability to change.