Last Updated on December 28, 2023 by Dr. Alberto Solà

If you or someone you love has abused or even have just occasionally used drugs, you may be wondering how one might go about repairing his or her brain afterward. It’s certainly no surprise to anyone that drugs are harmful to the brain, and brain damage will occur after prolonged use of any drug. Sometimes damage can even occur after a single use of certain drugs. 

Fortunately, you’ll be glad to know that the brain is a very resilient organ with incredible powers of repair. It is possible to repair your brain after drug use. In fact, in many ways, it will simply repair itself over time. All you have to do is stop using drugs. Read on to learn more.

How Do Drugs Affect the Brain?

Do you remember the old “this is your brain on drugs” commercials? They were popular in the 1980s and 1990s, but even people who weren’t alive then have probably seen them on the internet. The commercial starts with an image of an unbroken egg, and a voiceover says, “This is your brain.” Next, the egg is cracked into a frying pan and starts sizzling. The voiceover continues. “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?” 

This commercial is many things at once: it’s simple, it’s a great analogy, and it’s effective. 

How do drugs affect the brain? Although they don’t actually fry your brain like an egg, they do cause damage – every time you use them, but especially over prolonged use. Various drugs have different effects on the brain, but the drug effects on the brain are numerous. No matter what drug someone uses, any drug will affect the chemical balance in the brain. After all, that’s the point – that’s how drugs work.​​

The ways that drugs upset the chemical balance in the brain are vast. First of all, the brain does what it does thanks to the neurons releasing neurotransmitters across synapses to send messages. Drugs interrupt this type of communication and affect the ways that these messages are sent, received, and processed. Stimulants and depressants affect these neurons in completely different ways, but they both change the brain’s normal function.

If someone uses a drug on a regular basis, the brain will adapt and rewire itself to function amongst these changes. As a result, some parts of the brain may change drastically and functions like judgment, decision-making, learning, and memory become far different from their natural state. This is what leads to drug-seeking behavior, habit, and eventually addiction. 

Drug addiction and the brain go hand in hand. Brain scans of drug addicts find that some parts of the brain become hard-wired in interesting and detrimental ways over time with continued use. When an addict brain vs. a normal brain are compared, some brain regions in the drug addiction brain have more connections between neurons than a normal brain, and some have fewer. The brain has changed to accommodate the drug use, and this results in long-term changes that exist long after the individual has stopped using drugs.

Why does this happen? How do people let this happen? Well, it all comes down to dopamine. Drugs and dopamine are two powerful forces that work well together. Drugs are an external force; dopamine is an internal one, but they both have everything to do with addiction brain chemistry. Drugs stimulate dopamine enhancers – that is, pleasure brain chemicals – and as a result, your body feels a jolt of intense pleasure soon after drugs are ingested. Drugs that affect dopamine release are very addictive for this reason, and that’s why people use them time and time again – even as their brains are being rewired before their eyes.

Risks Factors for Brain Damage 

Is drug addiction a brain disease, then? It sure seems that way. Although this disease is established through the ingestion of an outside substance, it becomes a disease very quickly. Anyone knows that the disease of addiction is hard to cure. In fact, there is no cure for it. People who struggle with addiction must make the decision to break free from harmful substances and must make that same decision again and again, every day for the rest of their lives. Only in doing so can they recover.

We all know that the prolonged use of psychoactive drugs can cause brain damage. You are at risk of damaging your brain any time that you use.

List of Drugs That Cause Brain Damage

All drugs can damage the brain. Even drugs prescribed by doctors can change brain function over time. It will not surprise you to learn that drugs, for example, can alter brain pathways even when taken several times, all of which also cause brain damage.

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Hallucinogens 
  • Tobacco
  • Steroids
  • Opioids
  • Alcohol 

How Does the Brain Heal Itself After Alcohol and Other Drug Use?

If you’re someone who has been using drugs or drinking alcohol for a long time, the above information may sound very scary to you. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. You’ll be happy to hear that the brain has an incredible ability to adapt, repair, and change. Even someone who has used drugs for a long time has great potential for a full physical recovery of the brain. Your brain will continue to build brain cells and neural pathways as long as you live. This neuroplasticity is one of the wonders of being human.

Addiction and the brain are intriguing together but they are even better apart. You can change your brain and heal your mind; brain healing starts as soon as you stop using and abusing drugs. Dopamine receptors repair themselves in time and as you reset dopamine receptors you can begin to understand what true pleasure is once again. Exposing yourself to positive things that make you happy in your recovery is a type of active recovery for your brain that can help speed up the process. You have to learn to be happy again in a natural way. Although this task may sound daunting at first, you can and you will in recovery.

Repair Your Brain After Drug Use

As you can see, it’s not only possible to repair your brain after drug use, but it’s something that happens automatically. All you have to do is stop using and abusing drugs and alcohol. As soon as you do, your brain will start to repair itself and to return to the state in which it existed before you started using. Take a step back, look to the future, and break free.

If you need help taking the first steps on your recovery journey, Clear Sky Ibogaine can help. We offer innovative treatments that can not only help you to stop using drugs, but that will also help you get to the root of why you started using in the first place. Ibogaine therapy is different from other types of addiction treatments and it is very effective for many. You’ll participate in this treatment at our facility in Cancun, Mexico under the supervision of trained and experienced professionals. Please give us a call today. We can’t wait to hear from you and our staff is standing by to answer your questions. Call us now.


What are brain receptors?

Brain receptors are specialized protein molecules located on the surface of neurons in the brain. They receive and respond to chemical signals, like neurotransmitters, from other neurons or the body. Different types of receptors respond to different neurotransmitters and have varying functions in the brain.

How do you repair dopamine receptors?

Repairing dopamine receptors after damage typically involves a holistic approach. This includes maintaining a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, exercising regularly, and avoiding substances that can further harm dopamine receptors.

How do you help your brain recover from drugs?

To aid your brain’s recovery from drugs, adopt a healthy lifestyle with balanced nutrition and regular exercise. Engage in activities that reduce stress, such as meditation or yoga. Ensure adequate sleep and seek support from friends, family, or support groups. Professional counseling and therapy can also be beneficial.