The human brain is undoubtedly the world’s best supercomputer. However, it is not only a very effective and efficient problem-solver and decision-maker, it is also a very reliable communications platform, a highly dependable integrations platform, and a processor of many life-giving processes all throughout the body. While it is true that the human heart is the provider of oxygen and that the liver effectively metabolizes all toxic substances that enter the body, both these organs are controlled by the brain. In fact, there is not a single organ in the body that is not somehow connected and controlled or regulated by the brain.
Unfortunately, the brain is not immune to injury or damage. From physical to chemical types of injuries, a problem in the brain can present as a host of manifestations in different organs of the body. Furthermore, personality, thought processes, learning, emotions, speech, memory, and behavior among others, will also be affected. This is the reason why brain health is almost synonymous with an addiction-free life.
The overall status of cognitive processes is an indication of how healthy the brain is. At Sprout, we make sure to evaluate our clients’ cognitive health through a variety of tests such as the use of electroencephalograms and neurofeedback, just to name a few, in order to identify specific parts of the brain that may need reinforcement. The status of these parts of the brain will also give our clinicians an idea of the neurophysiologic, mental, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional deficits or excesses that may be expected. This enables our clinicians to devise more appropriate treatment plans.
Food for the Brain
More than just relaxing the body, adequate sleep has a lot to do with improving overall brain health. During sleep, many of the body’s non-vital organs and processes are turned down. This allows the brain to perform a lot of its physical and psychological reparative processes to allow the individual to feel a lot more energetic and more alive the following day. Timing of the sleep is as important as the adequacy of the sleep itself since the brain is programmed to release certain chemicals that will help in the reparative processes. If the body is still fully awake by this time, the chemicals won’t be released and tissue or cellular repair will not be initiated.
Studies show that physical exercises stimulate the release of endorphins from the brain. These are natural chemicals that serve to make us feel good about ourselves in addition to the well-documented benefits of pain relief and induction of relaxation. Sprout integrates physical activities in its treatment programs in order to help relieve anxiety and depression. These can include aerobic exercises, dancing, jogging, running, swimming, and cycling as well as host of other enjoyable physical activities.
Social relationships affect mental health through human emotions. When individuals are happy being loved and being in love, the brain is able to function optimally leading to even healthier mindsets. Unfortunately, dysfunctional social relationships can also create discord in brain processes leading to the development of mental illness or even the possibility of succumbing to the ills of chemical dependence or substance addiction. For example, growing up in a family where domestic violence is a norm may turn a child into a grownup who naturally revels in the idea that it is natural and normal to hurt other people. For some, they may form strongly negative reactions to the experience. Either way, the result is not healthy.
Cognitive and behavioral assessments will also be performed in addition to the clinical interview. Cognitive testing focuses on the intellectual competence of the individual with regards to solving problems a normal person his age would normally be able to answer. The behavioral tests will focus on activities of daily living and how these are carried out on a daily basis. The results from these tests will guide our clinicians at Sprout Health Group to design a plan of care that is appropriate for the individual’s condition.
Whether medical illness is the cause or the result of chemical dependence or simply a co-occurring condition, it is very important to establish a very comprehensive baseline information as to the mental health status of all individuals seeking addiction treatment with or without co-occurring mental illnesses. This is needed to devise a plan of care that is not only responsive to the needs of the individuals but also offers them the highest level of success at regaining full control of their lives.