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Will I Ever Get Back to Normal? Undoing the Damage of Drug Abuse

Rehab Helps Thousands of Addicts Quit. It Can Help You, Too.

Those who have taken drugs will eventually ask themselves a question. “Will I ever feel normal again?” There are many factors that will determine the rate at which your body heals, so you should make sure to understand that before you get frustrated with your healing. It took time to cause the damage, and it will take time to reverse it as well.

First, think about the factors that will determine how long it will be before you feel normal. They could include:

  • The length of time you took the drug
  • The type of drug you were on
  • The method of detox you completed
  • Your ability to go to therapy and/or group meetings
  • The amount of drugs you took

These five factors will actually be very important to your ability to heal and to how long it will take to feel better.

The brain is constantly changing. The drug that you took will affect it by changing the neurons in the reward sector, which will make you feel good every time you take the drug. The result of this change is more release of dopamine, and this will give you a rush of good feelings. The change in your feelings will last a short time, but the actual change to the brain will last longer. Your ability to stop cravings is also altered when this occurs. Now, when the body sees the drug or needs it, you will face more serious cravings for it. The amygdala, a part of the brain, has been altered, and it will trigger an urge for the drug when it wants it.

When a person takes marijuana, for example, THC enters the brain and acts on certain areas. This will affect the reward sector, as well as other parts of the brain that control balance, coordination, memory, and judgment. Over time, the effects of a drug like this can be profound, leading to the death of brain cells. That means that the symptoms you’re facing during a high can become more permanent, and you might have trouble with memory function or coordination even when you aren’t high.

MDMA or Ecstasy, is a drug that dramatically changes the brain from the very first time you take it. It alters the ability of neurons to transport serotonin, which is vital to many functions of the brain. When you take this drug, serotonin is unable to be transported as effectively, and in the long run, this can lead to problems with memory and learning. Some studies suggest that the brain does not completely heal from MDMA use even after 18 months of being clean. Other studies show that the healing begins around two weeks after being clean, and scans will look similar to a control group at about 18 months, even though the neurons may act differently than before. So, after just a single use, you’re looking at over 18 months of healing before you’ll be 100-percent better. That’s a long time for a hit that won’t last through the evening.

Cocaine is a serious drug that you may not heal completely from, according to current scientific information. In a study, the high of cocaine wore off in 30 minutes, and it resulted in a changed brain that affected the individual’s ability to feel pleasure, pain, and more. Ten days later, the brain was still changed and was unable to manage glucose as it should, which essentially means the brain was not “eating” like it should. Approximately 100 days later, the brain was still not functioning like before the drug use. Three months later, the scientists doing the study started to debate if the changes had altered the brain in a way that was unable to be healed. That was all from just one hit.

cocaine addictSome of the healing process has to do with the food you eat, how much water you drink, how much you exercise, and your immune system. Doing what you can to boost your overall health will help. Psychologically, you will do better if you head to group meetings and therapists, since there you will find others who will be able to help you get through the worst of the detoxing and rehabilitation process.

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What Are Your Thoughts on this Topic?

  • Only Human

    Its terrible that children, teens and young adults are the most vulnerable demographic. I personally can say that my own life has been unalterably messed up because of taking drugs and drinking at young age.

    • the mistaked person

      i feel your struggle man

      • Beymar Daniel Lopez Vazquez

        I feel it dawg

        • kalyan reddy

          Surrender everything to God, all that stands in your way address it to Him daily, start engaging in a personal relationship with God and start your day with that consciousness!!! When the cravings hit if they do, it wont be as intense because you started your day by putting on your armor for protection, dont wait till it hits, prepare your day from the moment you wake up with living by spiritual principles

          • joe

            I don’t believe in your idea of god. You learnt this from books

  • Alan

    The sad reality is that nobody understands addiction … Until they’re addicted. More attention should be in high school . It can happen to anyone at any age .

  • Kevin

    Ive done rehab for 10months but until now i want to take some drugs again because of the discriminations of the people around me i just want to free myself and enjoy life

    • Martha Leslie

      I can understand that. I hope you stay clear awhile longer because each day you resist is a day your body heals more. It will take awhile for people to understand, but it will happen. Congrats on your 10 months–each day is hard work.

    • Paul

      You used drugs to escape, you done 10 months rehab, and now your a bit stressed and want to escape back to drugs, that’s pretty smart. Didn’t rehab teach you anything? I can see you relapsing again and again! Rehab done nothing for you. Decide never to do it again under no condition and replace it with something else and you will be fine. Your saying things like you wanna enjoy life, bro, 10 months for what? You still wanna enjoy life using drugs. Find happiness in life and enjoy it like 95% of society does. Nobody enjoyed a life of drugs, nobody! Addiction is sickness. Just don’t touch it because it takes equally. Man up, drink a cup of concrete and face life. Stop being weak and soft. Get therapy and best of luck!

      • Melody Cougot

        Under no circumstances is it ever ok to call an addict in recovery dumb! We may not agree or want to encourage their former behavior but try encouraging them to find different outlets…the simple fact that you have been 10 months sober is amazing! I know how hard it is and how tempting it can be to want to go back to the way things used to be….but I find fighting the urge with something productive gets your mind working in a much more pleasant way….i wish you all the luck and success on your journey and don’t let anyone take your amazing work away! God bless!

      • Tricks

        Well said with truth and conviction !

      • Robert Borror

        Well said Paul .

      • joe

        I agree, the way you spoke to him was not helpful. Infact it felt like to me that you were projecting aspects of yourself that you don’t like onto him. 10 months is amazing like the other poster said. Sometimes we do need a kick up the arse but callung people dumb is just going to trigger their feelings of shame, and shame is the cause of so many addictions. I hope he dudn’t read your comnent if im honest Paul and I hope he is well.

      • Ande

        This is the problem for addicts, no one gets it. Recovery is a hard road. I know someone who struggled with delusions and hearing voices after he quit. Everyone assumed he was still abusing. When it finally became apparent, his recovery progressed. Hate the disease, not the person. I have the upmost respect for everyone out there trying to beat addiction. May God grace you with the strength you need to overcome your addiction and live life to its fullest. Surround yourself with those who believe you. You got this!!

  • Jeff

    I feel better after a month of opiod cold turkey stopping but i was eating healthy flushing my system and running and lifting everyday so i only really had a few restless nights so the exercise must keep the brain from stopping production of dopamine. Idk

  • kalyan reddy

    Surrender everything to God, all that stands in your way address it to
    Him daily, start engaging in a personal relationship with God and start
    your day with that consciousness!!! When the cravings hit if they do, it
    wont be as intense because you started your day by putting on your
    armor for protection, don’t wait till it hits, prepare your day from the
    moment you wake up with living by spiritual principles

  • K

    Been clean for over 6 months now, I didn’t get back to a normal life… I got back to a better life than I have ever had, in a loving relationship, applying for a university soon and have a job. Don’t give up your life, give up the drugs, it will get better. Don’t run from your problems with the high, face your problems straight on.

  • Britany Johnson

    I have not used any drugs in over 3 years (I do drink on occation and sometimes take a hit of weed). Before that, I was consteantly high on cocaine as well as pain meds and weed, as well as heavy drinking almost every night with occational acid, shooms, and e. I quit cold turkey for my boyfriend when we started dating and now have a great life, and great job. However, I still feel on edge, or antsy, like I need something. It hardly ever use to get this bad until resently I also quit smoking (around 8 months ago also cold turkey). Now I get so anxious sometimes I feel like I could crawl out of my skin. I dont know that these urges ever will completely go away. It’s like, if I have a beer when I feel like this, I calm down for a bit, but then just want another and another until I’m drunk. Coffee also makes me feel like I’m on cocaine, and I dont like it but I still drink it sometimes when I feel like this because I don’t know what else to do.

    • kittygrl

      Let’s me first say to you POT is a drug. So sadly you’ve not been clean for 3 years.
      Get into treatment and start really living a healthy happy life. I wish you the very best and know you can do it.

      • Germz

        Do not listen to this garbage! Sure pot has THC in it and it is classified as a drug but so is aspirin. Do not take any drugs that will hurt your well being or your anatomy. You have been clean. Look at all these people in AA meetings with an addiction to caffeine. Keep up the good work and you will recover. I did.

    • Germz

      Dont listen to that crap. sure pot is a drug but so is aspirin. Do not do any drugs that will hurt your well being or your anatomy. You have been clean. Look at all these people in AA meetings with an addiction to caffeine. Keep up the good work and you will recover. I did.

    • h

      Britany, good for you! You seem to have a lot of inner strength. Keep at it and dont give up.

  • Michael R. Barr

    Since my wife left I have destroyed my health, looks and financial stability through drug use. Lately I feel like giving up, I’m ashamed of how far I’ve fallen and fear that I will never regain the ground I have lost.

    • Ryan Augusto

      I can relate not so much with the wife thing but we all have a history and reasons we use drugs. Don’t give up sounds so cliche but I promise things will get better if you stop using maybe not in the time you’d like but it will be worth it I’m with you, you are not alone!

    • Nadine Mclaughlin

      Just try one day at a time, that’s all we can do….you’ll get there. Little steps and if you fall you’ll get back up Hun. Hope things lookup for you soon

    • Milos saric

      NO, stay strong. You are just going thru it right now….. If I can get sober, anyone can!

    • Ig@Yvng4Ever

      Never give up. You have to fight yourself. Its a tough battle but there is your conscious mind that controls the hope and your subconscious that holds the feelings and anxiety and pressure and all those things you hate but what I learned that helps is deep deep meditation. Im not talkin about the humming and sit in trance meditation. Im talking about directly talking to your brain and tellijg those feelings to off! You have to focus on that feeling that you hate and become that feeling and as you feel that feeling surrounding you and you start getting that uncomfortable feeling become it and control it and tell it to get lost and that its not welcome. I know people might find that crazy to talk to yourself but its the exact opposite because you are doing the same thing when you tell yourself you’re not good enough. When you meditate focus and get in touch with the areas of your brain that you feel are being affected or you feel pressure and focus on it and tell it to fuck off and whatever else you need to say to get it out of you. Imagine it being like an actual demon inside you because in relativity those thoughts and feelings really are your own worst enemy and rebuke those feelings over and over till you start to feel better. These feelings and thoughts have been deeply rooted into your subconscious and when you meditate you are accessing your subconscious mind and when you speak to your subconscious mind in meditation it changes the thought process you have. Do not stop meditation till you are certain that you feel better and that the feelings are gone!

  • Kathleen Hendrix

    I’m 51 and have used drugs off an on all my life , Marianna, alcohol, cocaine, painpills. I was on pain pills , valium, and alcohol steady for the last 3 yrs……I’ve been clean about 9 months, but I can’t smell, taste, or feel ANY emotion! My body feels like dead weight! I’ve had a CAT scan and blood work , which came back fine. This is awful! I will continue to search for answers but I don’t know how much longer I can live this way! I’m wondering if my brain will ever go back to normal! Will I ever be able to smell, taste or feel any emotion again! Everyone thinks I’m depressed but it’s not depression! I can’t feel anything!

    • Nadine Mclaughlin

      Please don’t give up there is always hope. I have had a bad deal and feel nothing. I’ve had trauma but people don’t believe me as I just talk and don’t cry or get upset. It’s like being on auto pilot. There are those going through the same thing and you are not alone I promise you. I’m not a bible bashed but God is my support and has kept my heart going even when I’ve overdosed and we are here for a reason. Please stay strong it can’t rain all the time and the sun will shine for you just hang in there. Hugs your way xxx

      • Kathleen Hendrix

        Thank you

    • Ashton

      Hi Kathleen, I’ve got the same issue, but mine occurred from using an antidepressant Wellbutrin for a year and a half. I’ve seen reports that this particular symptom can take a long time to go away. So just stay patient and try to find things to do to distract yourself from the lack of feelings. I get it, it SUCKS.

      • Kathleen Hendrix

        Thank you

      • T

        Hi I have this too no emotion I always thought it was from benzos. Do you think it’s from wellbutrin? I was on it at the same time.

      • T

        How long do you think till this might go away I can’t feel anything at all.

    • White Noise

      It takes up to three years for the brain to rebalance/rewire completely.
      I’m one year into abstinence, and I was a heavy heavy poly drug abuser since the age of 13, and i am 40 now. I’m doing it all without medication, and its been hell. I suspect I might need to eventually go ssri’s, its like being diabetic. But lets see, three years!

      • Milos saric

        Good job! 106 days here

      • Tina

        I am on ssri’s, but I find that they are not much help because my body doesn’t produce any serotonin! What a never ending cycle to be stuck in. So now I am taking 5-htp and an ssri together, which I know can be very dangerous, but I too am desperate to feel something!

    • Ig@Yvng4Ever

      Never give up. You have to fight yourself. Its a tough battle but there is your conscious mind that controls the hope and your subconscious that holds the feelings and anxiety and pressure and all those things you hate but what I learned that helps is deep deep meditation. Im not talkin about the humming and sit in trance meditation. Im talking about directly talking to your brain and tellijg those feelings off! You have to focus on that feeling that you hate and become that feeling and as you feel that feeling surrounding you and you start getting that uncomfortable feeling become it and control it and tell it to get lost and that its not welcome. I know people might find that crazy to talk to yourself but its the exact opposite because you are doing the same thing when you tell yourself you’re not good enough. When you meditate focus and get in touch with the areas of your brain that you feel are being affected or you feel pressure and focus on it and tell it to fuck off and whatever else you need to say to get it out of you. Imagine it being like an actual demon inside you because in relativity those thoughts and feelings really are your own worst enemy and rebuke those feelings over and over till you start to feel better. These feelings and thoughts have been deeply rooted into your subconscious and when you meditate you are accessing your subconscious mind and when you speak to your subconscious mind in meditation it changes the thought process you have. Do not stop meditation till you are certain that you feel better and that the feelings are gone

  • julie

    hey.. i’m in the works of cutting down on coke & cigs.. was wondering how you’re doing and feeling after a couple months ? find any solutions? people always say life is just so much better and you’re a million times happier after quitting drugs but reading all these makes it seem like it’s just more miserable and may never go back to how it used to be..

  • Michael Angelo

    I started smoking weed at 15 and by 17 I was snorting cocaine and taking e on a regular basis. I also loved cigs and smoked everyday sometimes a pack a night. I did this for years and had some close calls. Now I’m 32. I had been clean for nearly 2 years (oct 15-aug 17) I stupidly hung out with a wrong friend one night in August 2017 and snorted 2 small lines of cocaine. Felt so ashamed. I’ve been clean since so 7 months now. I fear sudden death from all the cocaine use and e and the effects on my heart, brain and overall health even though I exercise regularly and am clean, eat lots of fruits and veggies etc. Anyone else have this anxiety? Thanks

    • George

      Yes. All the bloody time these days :(
      I’m sure the constant worrying adds to the damage significantly. Stay strong.

  • Donny boudreaux

    I’ve been a crack addict since I was 17,I’m 39 now.I have really bad audio hallucinations,and paranoia while on the drug.about to lose my wife and child because of it.I do believe in god,I’m catholic.but hard to believe in myself,while everyone believes I’m capable of so much better.I’ve lost my faith I guess.