Rewiring Your Brain

Have you ever watched a guitar player at the top of their game moving their fingers around on the fretboard so fast that you wonder how they can think that fast? The answer is, of course, they don’t really. It’s what we call muscle memory. 

Athletes, musicians, and doctors learn to practice some tasks so many times that they can respond so quickly that consciously thinking about it slows them down. Addiction and mental illness hijack this ability to reinforce negative behavior, but we can hack it for good as well. Keep reading to learn more about how to rewire your brain for the better. 

Rewiring Our Brains: How Does It Work?

Our brains don’t work the same way computers do, but in many ways, they are similar. As we go about our lives, our brains program themselves in response to surroundings, successes, and failures. If there is something our brain feels is important, it builds faster connections to the ability to perform that thought or action.

In a nutshell, the things we practice the most are the things that get faster connections. It may seem strange to think about it in this way, but when we are thinking negative thoughts, we are practicing negativity. The brain makes it easier for us to think negative thoughts because that’s what it thinks we want. 

The same goes for addictions. While there is a physical dependency on most drugs, there is also a psychological component. When we feel happy from a drug hit, the brain rewires itself to make it easier for us to do the things that caused it, even if it’s harmful.

Our Brains: The Science Behind Addiction

Many people seek drugs to escape to a happier place. Although it’s temporary, an addict may feel like that is their only way to get away from the pain they feel day-to-day. A brain on hard drugs is overcome with an abundance of chemicals – dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, glutamate, and adrenaline. With a single drug hit, you can feel like you just won the lottery.

Reproducing this feeling in our daily lives is a little bit of a different story. Feeling happiness can be a tamer, more controlled feeling. It’s hard to replicate that kind of overflowing chemical excitement in our normal worlds. This is how chemical dependency often starts.

The more you light up the reward pathways, the more your brain demands that you do little else. You are no longer in the driver’s seat. The brain’s pleasure centers do the talking and give the orders.

Sigmund Freud states how “Anatomy is destiny.” The pleasure centers of the brain are areas many people aren’t too familiar with. Examples include the ventral tegmental area, nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex. These names may be new to you…However, they are major parts of your daily functioning. Especially when it comes to substance abuse. 

Here’s the upside. The brain also has a built-in override system, the frontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that makes a person moral and humane. The catch is that the frontal cortex needs regular maintenance. You can train this part of the brain to help you.

There are many solutions to overcoming addiction. It may help even to view this as a game of mental strength. Remember, it is you in control. You can choose to “beat your brain” and make it work for you. Building self-awareness, removing trigger environments and trigger friends, finding other healthy outlets, and having a mentor or support group – are all great strategies to help you rewire your brain.

Exercising Your Brain

So, if you’ve realized that your brain is quite good at feeling bad, don’t worry, the great part is that we can rewire our brains. It can take time, and it’s not easy, but if we start exercising our minds, we can create new pathways for good coping skills. 

There are several evidence-based techniques for this, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness, mental health rehab, and meditation. Even simple things like giving certain feelings names or breathing in deep and slow when there’s a trigger can sound silly, but they do work.

Methods for Rewiring Your Brain

Rewiring your brain starts with four basic concepts. Recognizing these concepts can help you gain control back into your life.

“What fires together, wires together.”

Addictive behavior is our brain’s and body’s way of reacting to certain stimuli, whether external or internal. What we need to do is form a new reaction to replace the old one. Neural pathways are a way for our brain to form new habits/patterns.

If you consistently respond to stress or triggers the same way, a neural pathway forms in your brain. Then when the trigger becomes apparent again, the brain/body automatically goes to that response. “What fires together wires together” is the most prominent aspect of this philosophy. 

For example, if we become frustrated or experience depression and then decide to take a drink of alcohol or abuse a substance, the physiological changes that take place (i.e., sense of euphoria) reduce the unwanted feelings. Consequently, this causes the cells to wire together so that when we become used to this fixated pattern. The more often we do this, the stronger the synaptic connections become in the brain.

The Perception of Ourselves

We all have the special ability to be able to step outside of our world and observe what’s going on. We can recognize the good and bad decisions we make. In other words, we are not our thoughts; we are not our behaviors or our feelings. We have thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. This allows us to not only recognize negative thoughts or behavioral patterns but to alter them for the better.

This requires us to understand the importance of our thoughts. We have the power to change our toxic habits if we recognize that it starts with reframing what we’ve become so used to.

We recommend doing a series of exercises, such as taking a moment to sit down and talk through some positive affirmations. 

These affirmations can be something along the lines of, “I have the power to change.” “I am full of potential.” “I am mentally strong.” Doing this throughout the day consistently can have immensely powerful benefits. 

Another great exercise is to name the behavior. When you get an urge to use a substance or partake in a bad habit, stop for a moment, and identify the urge. This will help show you that the urge itself is not a part of you. Let’s say you have an urge to take a pill.

Say to yourself, “This is my urge to take opioids.” Once you have stopped to look at it, you can ask some questions that might be helpful, such as “What just triggered this urge?” “What happened just before I had this thought?” 

Total Behavior

Addiction is made up of four components. It is easy to get caught up on the doing component of our bad habit. When we take the time to understand the other three, we allow ourselves to rewire our brain. 

The four components of every behavior are:  

  1. Doing (or active behavior): This is the behavior or action we do use our body. This can be driving to the liquor store, opening up a bottle of pills, or taking a hit of a joint.
  2. Thinking: These are the thoughts we have before or after the behavior. These are often negative thoughts centered around self-loathing.
  3. Feeling: These are the emotions we feel as a result of the thoughts we think or the behaviors we do. This can include feelings such as depression or guilt.
  4. Physiology: The brain releases neurochemicals and hormones that cause a physiological response in the body when we partake in an action. This response typically feels good in the moment when the drug is being consumed. However, this body response can then drive more of the behavior as the body builds up a tolerance.  

The next time you have an urge to do an addictive behavior, notice the urge, name the urge, and replace it with a different behavior first. For example, let’s say you have an urge to grab a drink. 

After you recognize and name the urge that you want to drink, replace it with a more positive behavior. For example, go outside and take a 10-minute walk. Maybe, you can do a mindfulness exercise and do a quick meditation. There are many different options.

Using your Mental Power for Good

What we want is to replace old neural pathways with new ones that supplement the kind of life we want to live. The more we fire the neurons on the new pathway, the weaker the old ones will become. It is important to understand that this can’t be a nonchalant choice. We must become aware of our thoughts. 

Brain research has shown that there is a split-second of time between a thought or urge and the resulting action. This is referred to as “free won’t.” This concludes that before we participate in something that’s damaging towards ourselves, we have the power to take a step back. Within this split second, we can ask ourselves the question, “What positive behavior can I replace this action with?” 

Rewiring your brain is all about replacing toxic patterns. 

Call Us Today

If you’re struggling with drug addiction, don’t shy away from getting help. Many people are in the same boat. No matter what struggle you’re going through, the right treatment can help propel you forward. Rewiring your brain is possible, and we’d be honored to help you.

Our doors are open for you! Our mission is to help you live the life you deserve. We’ll help you get the treatment you need. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 or contact us here for more information about available programs.

Don’t Wait For A Warm Handoff

There are many times when we put things off until the last minute; leaving for work, paying a bill, telling your friend to look where they’re going before they run into sign post, etc. A lot of that leads to negative effects. Sometimes, though, that delay in action can lead to positive results. Artists and engineers have historically had a sizable percentage that swear that their best work is done during ‘crunch time’, when a deadline to complete a project inches closer like slasher movie villain. When it comes to addiction, that slasher movie villain in the form of a life-threatening overdose has been seen as a positive influence on addicts seeking and succeeding at being treated and rehabilitated.

Several centers across the country are cooperating with hospitals to execute a process they  are calling a ‘warm handoff’. The idea is that a patient who may end up in the emergency room doesn’t leave the hospital until they have a plan for getting treatment for their addiction that landed them there in the first place. The hope is that it will have an overall positive effect at reducing repeat emergency room visits by addicts who who’s illness is highly self-destructive and leaves them in serious condition.

The obvious problem with this approach is that surviving an overdose is a gamble where the risk of death is the required ante to play the game. What engineers and artists will not tell you is that they are not always able to make a deadline at ‘crunch’ which provide them with that creative push that they seek to harness. Waiting until that one time where the dosage is too much for a person’s body to deal with could land them in a cemetery, unlike the creatives who simply have to, at worst, deal with getting fired but still live to fight another day.

This idea becomes even more risky when contending with the fentanyl potency finding its way into drugs that aren’t even in the same category as opioids. Recently, cocaine was killing people due to contamination of the powder with crushed fentanyl because of negligence on suppliers handling both narcotics. Even opioid addicts are frequently found dead with a needle still in their arm due to the speed with which fentanyl can shut their entire body down, meaning they won’t even make it to the emergency room in the first place.

Indeed, any increase in possibility of successful treatment should be considered, but addicts are highly recommended to not take the riskier route to that success. Even if treatment before that point of a near-death experience may have a higher relapse rate, it’s far more desirable for those who wish for their addiction to not end their life to seek treatment as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know could be suffering substance use disorder, 1st Step Behavioral Health offers south Florida detox, south Florida drug rehab and offers a wide range of treatment options for those seeking substance abuse treatment in Florida. Call (866) 319-6126 to talk to a counselor about your addiction treatment today.

Why Should I Go into Rehab?

Your Addiction is Probably Worse than You Think

If you are at a point where you are starting to think that you are addicted to a substance, there is a good chance that the drug or alcohol addiction is worse than you think. This is because people who are addicted often create introspective excuses for why they keep using the substance and so often. More often than not, people tell themselves (and others who will listen) that they are not addicted whatsoever. They say things like, “I can quit whenever I want.”

And if you are challenged in this way and you give that reply, you may hear a question asking you to quit the substance then and there. Your addiction might lead you into saying something along the lines of “I just don’t want to quit right now.”

With that all in mind, if you actually think to yourself that you have a substance abuse problem, it must have caused serious consequences or you feel like you have lost control of your life.


Things May Only Get Worse

A huge problem with addiction is that it is cyclical, and every time you drink alcohol or take drugs means becoming more and more addicted to the substance. For most addicts, their symptoms and addiction only get worse until they either get help by way of family intervention, a huge change in their life, or a program through a rehab center.

Even if you are a “functional addict” right now, that still means that you are an addict, and you should seek help at your earliest opportunity.


When You Should Go to Rehab

Though there’s no line drawn that separates drug and alcohol use with drug and alcohol addiction, the moment that you think you have an addiction is when you should go to rehab. If this sounds like you, contact First Step today.


Going into Rehab for Your Cocaine Addiction

Do You Need Rehab?

Figuring out if you need rehab can be a difficult task. It will require a lot of honest introspection that a lot of people have never had to use before. The thing is, though, that if you have gotten to the point that you think you might need rehab for a cocaine addiction, then you most likely do. Likewise, if someone close to you like a family member, a good friend, or a coworker has sincerely told you that you have a cocaine abuse problem or an addiction, you may need rehab. At the very least, you should contact a South Florida rehab center like First Step Behavioral Health and discuss your situation.


Detox and Rehab

If you do end up going into rehab for your cocaine addiction, there is at least a little good news – the withdrawal symptoms for coke are significantly less intense than other addictive substances like synthetic opioids, heroin, or even alcohol. Still, that should not imply that quitting cocaine is going to be an easy task, especially since substances can affect people so differently. Similarly, those with a dual diagnosis, which is when an addiction is combined with a mental health disorder, quitting can be far more problematic and difficult, no matter what the substance is.

That all being said, detox and rehabilitating from cocaine addiction is more likely to be in an outpatient program than from most other substances, though there are still people who need inpatient care.


Staying Sober After Rehab

Once your rehab program has finished, you should finally be free from cocaine abuse. Still, the majority of people who relapse back to cocaine do so because a friend or family member give the drug to them, so staying sober after cocaine addiction rehab in South Florida will rely on your willpower and ability to avoid situations where cocaine use might be present, both of which are skills taught during rehab.


Pompano Women-only Drug Rehab Program

For women who would be more comfortable going through substance abuse treatment with only other women, the women’s drug rehab program in Pompano is an ideal choice. Where other types of drug abuse treatment programs will have men and women together in group meetings, the women-only drug rehab program has women only interacting with other women in things like group therapy sessions, social gatherings, exercise time, and more.


Build a Support Network

One of the things that women’s drug rehab in Pompano offers to female patients is that they will be able to make friends and helpful acquaintances much easier with other women than if they were also interacting with men. This is the case because people, in general, are much more likely to build connections and friendships with those who are similar to them.

As far as women’s drug rehab in Pompano Beach is concerned, there are two things that are already shared between most of the women who go through this program. First is the obvious fact that they are all women – people of the same gender are much more attracted to each other as far as platonic friendships are concerned. The second thing is that most of the people who go through rehab at First Step are from Pompano Beach or one of the surrounding cities in South Florida.

These relationships end up being one of the strongest tools in the fight against drug addiction as both patients support and encourage each other. Furthermore, chances are good that when these patients are done with their rehab program, they will still live relatively close to the women they built relationships with, which means continuing to help one another.


If you have any questions about our rehab center, the women’s drug rehab program, health insurance for rehab, the cost of treatment, or anything else, contact us and we will be glad to help.


Don’t Punish Yourself for a Drug Relapse

Upon finding yourself in the middle of a drug relapse after you thought you were no longer addicted to some substance or another, you might feel the urge to somehow punish yourself. This is most often done by degrading oneself privately. Another form of punishing yourself for a drug relapse can also include things like injuring yourself, which is commonly done through cutting the skin and punching or kicking hard inanimate objects.  


Relapse Can Happen to Anyone

One very important thing to remember when it comes to your addiction and relapse is that they can happen to anyone. Regardless of age, gender, tax bracket, race, education, religion, or any other demographic, relapses in drug abuse happens in all of them. Quitting a substance is no walk in the park, and you need to realize that relapses happen all the time to people just like you. If it happens to you, dust yourself off, inform your rehab center, therapist, addiction group, and anyone else who is a part of your addiction treatment support network. But most importantly, don’t self punish or play the blame game while pointing at yourself.


Issues from Self Punishment

If you start punishing yourself for a drug relapse in Pompano Beach, FL, you might lead yourself to much worse consequences than just feeling guilty for a few days. When it comes to injuring yourself as noted above, a mistake can quickly turn a small injury into a truly dangerous moment. Cuts can go too deep in sensitive parts of your wrists or legs. Punching a solid object can result in a broken hand and so on.


Even when you self punish by blaming yourself, you introduce and reinforce the idea that you are not worthy or ready to actually quit using drugs, which can lead to major issues even if they’re not physically damaging. These issues include numerous kinds of mental illnesses, not the least of which is depressive and anxiety disorders.


Quitting Again Improves Your Chances

As this section title says, tryng to quit again after a relapse is statistically more likely to result in quitting the substance you’re addicted to for the rest of your life, and those chances only increase every time an addict goes back to sobriety after a relapse no matter how many times they do so.


So, quit trying to punish yourself if you have a drug relapse in Pompano Beach and instead contact us for help and guidance in ending your addiction again.


Your Drug Addiction is Affecting More than You

If you think your addiction to a substance has either gone unnoticed or that it’s not affecting anyone but you, you’re sorely mistaken. And depending on the drug or drugs that you’re addicted to, there’s a chance that everyone in your life knows about and is impacted by the substances you’re buying in South Florida.


Your Family Cares

Do you believe your family hasn’t given your addiction, or even you, a second thought lately? If so, you’re probably far off base on that assumption with the exception of some families, of course. Whether you’re married, a parent, single, or you still live at home with your parents, your immediate family has probably noticed at least a few changes in your behavior or your appearance. If they haven’t brought it up with you, there’s a lot of reasons they aren’t talking to you about your drug addiction. Out of those reasons, there are three that most avoidant family members have:

  1. Ignorance

For some family members in South Florida who haven’t approached you about your drug addiction, they are missing some important information. This can be something like not understanding how bad your addiction is or how dangerous it is to use and abuse certain substances. When this is the reason they haven’t talked to you yet, it usually means you are spending a lot of energy hiding your addiction, which still impacts them because you’re spending so much more time away from them now.


  1. Anxiety

Due to some reason or another, there’s a chance that family member(s) are actively trying to ignore your drug addiction no matter how bad it is. This anxiety to talk to you about your problem might be because they’re not good about opening up or they hate talking about difficult topics. Likewise, some of them might be anxious to discuss your drug addiction because of some experience in their own past dealing with substance use or abuse.


  1. Fear

Many drug addicts in South Florida (or anywhere else) have behavioral changes that make kids, spouses, siblings, or parents afraid to talk to them. It might feel absurd when thinking of yourself like that, but drug and alcohol abuse are notorious for causing increased irritability and aggression. Even if you don’t realize it, your drug-influenced behavior might might not only avoid the topic of your drug abuse, but they’ll probably try to avoid you as much as possible.


Get the Help You Need

Should you find yourself with a drug addiction in South Florida and you’re worried it’s starting to negatively impact the people you love most in your life, contact us to get started with detox or rehab services. You can get in touch with us by calling (866) 319-6126 or submitting a contact form for yourself.

Increase the Chances that Your Drug Treatment is Successful

The Importance of Honesty

When heading into rehab, you need to understand that the staff and doctors giving providing drug treatment in Pompano have treated all kinds of addictions and substance abuse problems. They have seen it all, so to speak, from people of all races, creeds, religions, genders, and income levels, and they are not going to judge you negatively for having an addiction. If anything, they will see your going to rehab as an incredibly strong and noble act – they know how difficult it can be just to decide to end an addiction. Still, even when people know that, many addicts will omit vital pieces of information when entering a rehab facility.

The two most common things that people don’t mention to a rehab center when first signing up are mental illnesses and cases of dual diagnosis (which means the drug treatment client has an addiction to more than one drug). Both of these conditions can complicate the treatment process, and knowing that a client has either will help determine the best course to rehabilitate safely and effectively.


Mental Preparation

Successfully quitting a substance during rehab can get a big boost if you emotionally and mentally prepare yourself for certain parts of rehab.


Get Ready to Talk…

As shown in movies and television, whenever a character has a drug problem and goes through rehab, they are always shown talking to someone, be it through therapy, new acquaintances, or group meetings. Those scenes are just about the only thing entertainment gets right about rehab – you’re going to have to talk to some people and then talk some more to others. That talking goes a long way in helping quit.


…and Listen

As far as those group meetings are concerned, you are going to hear many addiction stories from other people. Don’t just “zone out” when others are talking – their experiences and words help addicts realize they’re not alone in getting drug treatment in Pompano Beach.


If you’re ready to give drug abuse treatment a shot, call us today or send us a message through our contact page to learn about our processes and more.


Will My Health Insurance Cover South Florida Rehab Center Costs?

For many people, the cost of rehab can seem so high that they feel like they’ll never be able to get the help they needs to end an addiction. To compound that idea, a substance abuse problem is often accompanied by money problems – which may be both a trigger for substance abuse and a symptom of spending too much money on drugs and alcohol. When these people spread the idea that rehab is too expensive for anyone but a celebrity, addicts may not seek out the help they really need.

Does Health Insurance Cover Rehab?

Boiled down to its most basic form, the answer to the question of “Does health insurance cover rehab in South Florida?” is a vague, “Well… it depends.”

That’s the case is because different insurance companies and plans will pay for different things. It can be frustrating, but it’s just a part of dealing with health insurance – even people who need life-saving procedures or medications are often denied because the insurance company doesn’t want to hand over the money.

Insurance Companies that Pay for Substance Abuse Treatment

Still, what’s said above also implies that other health insurance companies and plans will cover the cost of rehab in South Florida. That implication is true and, in fact, most health insurance providers will pay for your substance abuse treatment. Some if the health insurance companies that will pay for your rehab services at First Step include the following:

Don’t assume those are the only companies that will pay for your rehab, though. As noted, most companies will, and you’ll just have to find out if your health insurance will pay for rehab in South Florida.

The best and fastest way to find out if your insurance is going to cover rehab at First Step is to give us a call and speak with one of our admission specialists. You can reach us at (866) 319-6126.

Visit a South Florida Rehab Center for Help Kicking Your Addiction

If you spend much time watching the news, there’s a good chance that you have heard over and over again about what’s being called the “opioid epidemic”. While it’s good that substance abuse is getting attention and support (including federal grants to pay for South Florida rehab centers), news reporters are acting like opioid abuse is the only drug addiction that anyone might have.

Obviously,  that isn’t the case. So while the media might only be telling you to go to a rehab center if you are addicted to opioids, that advice should also be taken no matter what substance you or a loved one are addicted to whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or both.


Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Because of the way a lot of people were brought up, they have developed a very real aversion to admitting they have a problem and asking for help. It might be okay and possible to handle all sorts of problems on your own, but beating an addiction isn’t the kind of thing you can learn how to do just by doing an online search.

Asking for help from South Florida rehab centers will increase your chances of quitting an addiction, especially if you are addicted to two substances at the same time (dual diagnosis) or if you have an addiction to an especially addictive drug. It might be difficult for some people to swallow, but sometimes asking for help is the only way you can get certain things done.

You Have Options

Something you might not know about rehab centers in South Florida is that there isn’t one specific rehab program that’s going to work perfectly for everyone. Because of that, there are many treatment options, including various therapies, types of group meetings, and drug-specific care and detox.


Don’t fight your addiction on your own. Contact First Step today with questions and to start rehab as soon as you can.