Essential Element 2

The Brain Needs to Heal and Re-wire Itself

While there is much discussion about the lasting effect the abuse of drugs and alcohol has on the brain, most agree that addiction impairs brain development and function. To better understand the “why and how”, it helps to know that the brain does not fully develop until a person reaches their mid-twenties. The last area to mature or develop is the frontal lobe, which regulates the “emotional control center”.

The impairment caused by substance abuse in evident in many ways, such as the impulsive, emotional, irrational even stupid decisions that most addicts make, or why it is common for someone still active in an addiction in their 30s or 40s to have the emotional maturity of a teenager. During addiction the brain still functions, but not effectively. Much like a river that has been dammed by a mudslide, the muddy water still finds its way to the ocean. Similarly, the brain’s messages, while somewhat distorted, find their way to their proper destination.

The good news is that the brain, in fact the whole body, is an amazing healing machine. During treatment, when the addiction is stopped, the brain begins to heal (or re-wire) itself. The key here is “itself”. No professional can do it. With a relative short time of abstinence, the proper environment, and new patterns of living, improvement in brain structure and function become evident. But it requires at least 2 years, and up to 5 years, of treatment for the brain to function at its optimum. During this healing or re-wiring process, the person’s actions, reactions, and decision-making abilities remain distorted, but continue to improve as time goes on. After 5 years of sobriety, active recovery, and addiction treatment, the brain is usually as good as it will ever be, and if the recovered addicts continue to use the proper tools, they will be able to maintain sobriety for life.

The above is fairly easy to understand. However, while many addicts want recovery, few are willing to commit to the time needed. This is one of the main reasons for the high rate of relapses.

Life-long sobriety is our only mission.

That is why the minimum stay at the John Volken Academy is two years, with the average stay being 28 months. It is the best investment of time that a struggling young person can ever make. The benefits will last a life time!