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Can Brain Damage From Substance Abuse Be Reversed?

Resurgence Behavioral Health Can Brain Damage From Substance Abuse Be Reversed

Brain Damage Caused By Drug and Alcohol Use

We know that addiction to drugs and alcohol can lead to different types of organ damage, affecting the lungs, heart, and liver. However, did you realize that substance abuse can also result in debilitating brain injuries, but can brain damage from substance abuse be reversed?

Alcohol abuse can cause blackouts, a form of short-term brain damage. When abused over the long term, alcohol can cause more devastating effects if not treated professionally.

Opioid abuse can cause memory loss and make it hard for you to get pleasure from other sources due to your brain’s reward system disruption.

An important question you might ask about addiction is: can brain damage from substance abuse be reversed?

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Effects of Alcohol on the Brain

It’s essential to understand which substances can result in brain damage and whether these effects can be treated successfully so you can live a full, happy life in recovery. Abusing alcohol can lead to:

Foggy thinking

Abusing alcohol to the point of addiction can change how your brain communicates within itself and other parts of your body. Changes in your mood, movements, and behaviors can become disrupted over time, and you’ll find it harder to concentrate and think clearly.

Korsakoff’s syndrome

This brain disorder causes you to lose many motor coordination skills, making it difficult to walk. It also can lead to vision problems. People with alcoholism typically have poor nutritional diets that lack proper vitamins. This lack of nutrients is partly due to the frequent vomiting that can occur with alcohol use disorder. Between the poor diet and the vomiting, the body loses the few nutrients that may have been taken in.


Alcohol addiction can also place you at a greater risk for developing dementia due to brain cell damage.

Effects of Drugs on the Brain

The long-term effects of certain drugs on the brain can vary, depending on the substance. Some drugs that lead to addiction can wreak more havoc and cause more severe brain damage than others. These drugs can cause the most significant damage:


This stimulant can cause long-lasting damage to the brain. Research has shown that cocaine can age the brain more quickly than normal, affecting memory and thinking abilities. Studies have also found that it is possible to reverse some of this damage when addiction is treated in time with therapy and medication.


Meth can harm the brain’s dopamine neurotransmitters, making it very difficult for the addicted person to get pleasure from sources that are not methamphetamines. This lack of ability to feel pleasure without substance use can lead to:

  • Depression
  • Self-harming or self-destructive behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts

Over time, the neurotransmitters can heal with treatment, though some motor coordination damage can remain.


It’s been thought by scientists for years that hallucinogens like LSD kill brain cells, but the research has not proven this to be true. Addiction to hallucinogens, including LSD, peyote, DMT, or MDMA, can cause residual hallucinations to continue after the drug has been removed from your system.

Having continued hallucinations can result from damage to the occipital lobe of the brain that controls vision. This may go on for a few years after stopping the drug and needs further study.

Is Brain Damage from Addictive Substances Reversible?

When caught in the beginning stages of brain damage resulting from drug or alcohol abuse, it’s possible to reverse the injuries in most cases. When brain damage occurs because of nutritional deficiencies, there is a good chance of reversing the damage done with appropriate nutrition, rehab, and treatment. When brain d age is extensive, including cell death or damage caused to the brain due to injuries sustained from being intoxicated, the damage may be irreversible.

Resources for Addiction Recovery at Resurgence

Regaining your sobriety and getting the proper drug treatment for your substance use disorder is the first step in trying to determine the extent, if any, of brain damage caused by addiction.

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we know your mental health and proper brain functioning are vital components to your individualized addiction treatment plan. Our highly trained clinicians will assess and diagnose your condition to identify any brain disorder issues as we fully address your addiction treatment goals for recovery. Call (855) 458-0050 to learn more about our treatment services today.

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At Resurgence, we accept most PPO insurance. Verify your insurance now.