Committed to Protecting Montana from Illegal Drugs & Narcotics.

© 2014-2016. SafeMontana. All Rights Reserved.

Paid for by SafeMontana Stephen A Zabawa, Treasurer PO BOX 20515 Billing MT 59104


Neuroplasticity offers hope

Get help for addiction

A mistaken presumption supporters involved in a group such as SafeMontana may face is the misguided notion that we are somehow devoid of empathy for people that struggle with substance abuse addiction, or that we simply want them locked away and jailed.  Many activists with SafeMontana have felt the impetus to get involved with the cause of combating drug abuse, because a loved one of their own has struggle with a substance abuse problem.

Many individuals that struggle with addiction wrongly eschew the treatment they need for fear of legal repercussions or detection by law enforcement. But health care providers, police and public policy makers alike have come to recognize that it is in civil society's interest that individuals can receive confidential treatment to overcome the perilous effects of substance abuse. Fear of punishment, or jail time, is not a valid reason to avoid treatment. In fact, avoiding treatment for drug addiction actually increases the probability of an individual's addiction becoming so problematic in their lives that they're faced with detection by law enforcement, and possible criminal sanctions.

​We've provided this page for individuals and concerned families about getting help to overcome addiction.

As Norman Doidge, M.D., a Canadian physician, and renowned author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing, has demonstrated through his scholarly research, neuroplasticity remains a pillar of behavioral therapy -- therapy that can be utilized constructively to help people overcome addictions, such as substance abuse. 

We used to think that the brain, once damaged, could not repair itself. Breakthroughs in neuroscience have shown that this is not true. Though individual neurons might be damaged beyond repair, the brain attempts to heal itself when damaged by making new connections or new neural pathways as work-arounds for the damage. This has been evident in stroke patients. But precisely, because the brain is malleable or as the expression goes, 'plastic,' bad behaviors can literally change the wiring of the brain so as to reinforce negative behaviors, making addiction difficult to overcome if an individual is left to his own resources.

The science behind brain behavior has been dubbed neuroplasticity, neuro (brain/nerve/neuron) and plasticity (moldability). When we develop a habit, the brain creates a path in itself in support of that habit. Neurons fire between synapses, and the brain adjusts over time. As we engage in the habit over and over again, the pathway becomes well-worn or stronger. This is similar to lifting a weight. If you lift a weight over and over, the muscle will get stronger. An addiction becomes unhealthy for the brain, and the brain has a tendency to reward the addiction with a euphoric cocktail of neurotransmitters, and thus the natural equilibrium between norepinephrine, serotonin and/or dopamines is knocked out of alignment. As the National Institutes on Drug Abuse reports, drugs contain chemicals that tap into the brain’s communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Drugs cause this disruption, either: (1) by imitating the brain’s natural chemical messengers and (2) by overstimulating the reward circuit of the brain.

In Billings, the Rimrock Foundation and Gateway Recovery Services provides support for individuals struggling with the ill effects of an addiction, including illicit narcotics.

In Bozeman, Tri Therapy offers addiction counseling for individuals with a substance abuse problem.

​In Butte, MCDC provides holistic intensive in-patient treatment that cares for the disease of addiction including withdrawal management for substance use disorders and treatment for co-occurring mental health disease.

In Helena, Boyd Andrew Community Services offers a support network and facilities to assist individuals struggling to overcome the effects of substance abuse and drug addiction.

​In Kalispell, there is the Flathead Valley Chemical Dependency Clinic, the Pathways Treatment Center and the Wilderness Treatment Center.

SAMHSA
 offers a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in both English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing substance use disorders. You can 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit the online treatment locators.

Also, individuals struggling with a drug addiction or their loved ones can reach out to a family physician for a referral to a trusted drug treatment provider in their area as well. 

Disclaimer: SafeMontana has no formal affiliation with either for-profit or non-profit drug treatment services, and this information is provided as simple referral option for individuals. We recommend consultation with your family physician for a referral as well.

Community Resources

"Neuroplasticity offers Hope," continued


In many ways, addiction can be explained as a neuroplastic event. The brain by conscious choice is trained to do a particular behavior – abuse drugs or alcohol. BUT, in treatment, through the science of neuroplasticity, the brain is retrained so as to develop a new pathway that supports recovery, and leads an individual on a path towards recovery. Generally it is seldom effected positively through solitary self-treatment, and the support structure of professional counselors and medical professionals is very much needed to avoid relapse. 

With proper behavior therapy, and other holistic interventions, an individual recovering from addiction, then strengthens the new “recovery” loop within the brain. The brain then learns to enjoy recovery, those things that give us pleasure in our sober lives – family, work, interpersonal interactions. We retrain the brain and thus change our lives.