The Cerebellum and Addiction

For years, people assumed substance abuse was about control – culturally, people see the battle of addiction as a battle of will. Fortunately, current research is transforming the way people think about addiction, realizing it’s not as simple as deciding to stop. At The Treatment Center, we believe in the importance of treating addiction and its root cause. People see drugs and alcohol as a way out of something, and we are dedicated to healing the issues that led to the addiction.

Research Shows Many Factors Cause Addiction

Health care professionals and treatment centers like ours understand substance abuse is a culmination of many factors – including underlying mental or physical conditions. Further research into the brain’s chemistry and addiction reveals that the understanding we have of addiction may just be scratching the surface. In fact, the way the brain works may hold insight.

Your brain’s cerebellum controls voluntary movements such as balance, speech, coordination, and posture. Located just above the brain stem, it is a relatively small, but critical, part of the brain. The cerebellum contains about half the brain’s neurons, the specialized cells that transmit signals to the rest of your body. And this part of the brain may hold the key to answers about addiction and recovery.

Addiction and the Cerebellum

Recent research conducted by a team at the Universitat Jaume I, in Spain, says the cerebellum is involved in much more than simply controlling your body’s movements. Scientists now know the cerebellum is also responsible for the brain alterations associated with consuming too many drugs.

One of the project’s head researchers, Dr. Marta Miguel, explains that the cerebellum contains 60 billion neurons – that’s 80 percent of a brain’s neurons located in 10 percent of the brain. Addiction and the CerebellumWhat we saw as the way the brain controls balance and speech turns out to be a crucial component in how the mind consolidates behavior. It may also matter to the spectrum of learned behaviors that occur when someone become addicted. The cerebellum may be a crucial component to healing some aspects of addiction, from where someone uses drugs to the ritual of that use.

Before these findings were published, neuroscientists studying addiction mostly overlooked the cerebellum. It makes sense that addiction could have an impact on your body’s motor control, but experts considered the cerebellum the non-thinking part of the brain. Experts thought the cerebrum, a larger part of the brain that deals with thought processes, was the section most impacted by addictive substances. Because of this, research into addiction favored studying the cerebrum. The cerebellum, however, is the main area that should be studied.

Understanding Addiction and the Cerebellum

According to Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, the cerebellum may be a crucial component to addiction recovery. The article makes these arguments:

  • Memories that cue drug-related responses involve the cerebellum.
  • Executive functions and instrumental memory use cerebellar circuitry.
  • Alterations to drug-dependency in the brain go beyond temperature fluctuations.
  • Changes to the cerebellum are common in co-morbid neuropsychiatric issues.
  • Addictive substances target chemical changes in the cerebellum.

Most of the evidence suggests that addiction isn’t just about the larger part of the brain, and further research into the connection between addiction and the cerebellum is crucial to making headway into the science of recovery.

New Addiction Treatments Could Be on the Horizon

Scientists always knew that the cerebellum played an important role in the body’s motor control and coordination. However, they weren’t sure about the specifics of all that it could do. These findings shine a light on more of its capabilities and resolve years of uncertainty. What is most exciting about this new study is that it paves the way for more research to on how addiction impacts the cerebellum.

Hopefully, additional research will lead to better and more effective treatments. While it will certainly take a long time for scientists to untangle the complex relationship between addiction and the cerebellum, at least the focus of research has moved forward in a new and promising direction.

The Treatment Center Leverages Science for Recovery

At The Treatment Center, we understand how important holistic care is. Part of understanding how to get better involves knowing what is and isn’t in the control of someone who is dependent on drugs. This research may offer insight into how we can further help those in recovery. We can leverage the science we have to guide people suffering from dependency to a path wellness.

Offering Holistic Treatment Options with a Scientific Approach, We at the Treatment Center Are Here to Help with Every Aspect of Your Recovery!
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