Road Work Ahead
You are driving along the highway—maybe a road you have traveled many, many times—when you notice a sign announcing that construction is scheduled to begin soon. You might not think too much of it at first.
But once the work begins, your commute gets more difficult. Soon, you realize that this is no small project: a hub of exits and entrances connecting one highway to another is getting a major makeover. The exit you have been using for years will start to change, with new stretches of pavement replacing older routes.
The new routes may seem really inconvenient during the construction process. Heck, the old routes probably seem pretty inconvenient, too, what with the cones and the heavy machinery and the workers themselves all along the road. But in the end, the new pathway will likely be an improvement over the old route. It may have smoother pavement, gentler curves, more lanes, and better signage than its predecessor.
When it is finally completed and the trappings of construction are removed, you may discover that all of that time and effort has led to changes that make your daily commute easier and safer.
Neuroplasticity: Why Are We Talking About Construction?
You probably didn’t arrive at this blog on a search for information about road construction. But the scenario we have outlined above is analogous to something that can happen in our brains, thanks to what is known as “neuroplasticity.”
Over time, as we live our day-to-day lives, various pathways are constructed in our brains. Some of these pathways are positive and helpful. Others, like those associated with a substance use disorder, are not. Neuroplasticity means that we can construct new brain pathways to circumvent those routes that don’t serve us well.
But just like road construction takes time, effort, and specific tools, rerouting the pathways in the brain is a process.
How to Get the Rerouting Work Underway
When it comes to the work necessary to construct new brain pathways that replace those related to a substance use disorder, there are some specific steps to follow.
First up is medically supervised detoxification, which allows you to withstand the challenges of withdrawal and regain your sobriety.
Next comes a robust rehabilitation program that includes both individual and group therapy sessions designed to give you the information, resources, and support you need to start your recovery journey with confidence.
And the third part of the process is the ongoing work of recovery itself—making good choices, leaning into your support networks, and protecting your hard-won sobriety day by day.
These positive behaviors can help steer you away from the old routes that led you to places you no longer want to go.
A Relapse Is an Unwelcome Detour
Have you ever had that experience in which you daydream while driving and suddenly realize you are lost? Or maybe you have absentmindedly driven to your child’s elementary school even though they are in middle school now (and waiting for you to pick them up).
These detours of our own making are a lot like a relapse. The old pathways are still there in your brain, and even though they are “closed,” it is possible to re-open them and find yourself traveling toward drug or alcohol use once more.
To get yourself back on the right road, the best move is to return to treatment so that you can reinforce the positive pathways once again.
We Don’t Wear Hardhats, But We Can Help
Just like it would be extremely difficult for a single construction worker to complete all the changes to a major intersection, making changes to the brain’s pathways is easier if you have some help. At Wooded Glen Recovery Center, we have the expertise, compassion, and experience necessary to help you regain and maintain your sobriety.
We can address any co-occurring mental health disorders that may be intertwined with your substance use disorder, and we are committed to a continuum of care that provides support during the crucial early days of the recovery journey. Should you experience a relapse, you can count on us to provide judgment-free care to get your back on the road to long-term sobriety.
When you are ready to take advantage of your brain’s neuroplasticity, we are ready to help smooth the road ahead.