The Midbrain is the main control center for what the brain perceives to be its order of operations for survival. Though the midbrain does not directly create any thoughts of consciousness like the cortex does, the midbrain is the motor behind the steering wheel. Driving needs for everyday living come from them midbrain, directing the thoughts that develop in the cortex. Essentials include eating, sleeping, reproducing, and killing, at their primal levels. These things are what the human brain needs to make it through each day.
Insane in the Midbrain!
Addiction is an affliction of the brain in terms of neurochemistry as much as it is an affliction of thought. That is because, on a quite literal scale, addiction changes the way the brain thinks. As frequent overproduction of dopamine sends pleasurable charges to the reward center of the brain, it is communicating with the midbrain telling it how great drugs and alcohol are. Soon, that substance becomes a matter of survival. Taking a seat next to life saving skills of eating and sleeping, addiction puts itself at the forefront of basic motor functions. Then, the power of addiction truly takes over. Not only does addiction become a survival mechanism, it becomes the most important one. On the outside, when addiction takes over someone’s life, it literally seems to be all they are concerned about above a job, hygiene, or even nutrition. In the brain, addiction moves to the top of the totem pole. Obtaining and using drugs or alcohol actually becomes the most important thing an addict or alcoholic can do. Indeed, in the mind, it becomes a matter of life or death.
Saying of someone that addiction has changed the way a loved one thinks or acts is no general statement. It is quite scientific. After the midbrain has been altered to prioritize addiction’s needs, it sends messages back to the cortex regarding action. Symptoms of withdrawal occur out of the brain’s desperation to receive more substance. Pressured by thoughts of craving, motor function will take over in that critical instant when an addict is debating whether or not to find their dealer, putting the control on autopilot.
Insidious and particular only to addiction or alcoholism is the thought process of manipulation. Despite intimate knowledge of both psychological and physiological consequences, even social or familial repercussions, that will come from taking one more drink, the thoughts change to woo the alcoholic closer. Like a drink after a hard day of work, or a joint of marijuana, the brain fabricates a selfish narrative of entitlement. Deserving of just one more, the substance is taken, and the cycle begins again.
There is a way to end the cycle of addiction and alcoholism in the brain. At the Center for Life Change we educate our patients on the operations of their mind so they can reclaim their thoughts, and their lives. Call 951-775-4000 today for more information.