Ask an Expert: Can I Fix My Pot-Damaged Brain?

By Paula Norris M.Ed. 03/01/16

Which treatments heal the damage done by marijuana and alcohol use.

Ask an Expert: Can I Fix my Brain?

Hello. I have been wondering for many years if there is anything that I could take, like a vitamin or medication, that would help restore my brain in some way. See, I was a very heavy—and I mean very heavy—marijuana user from age 13 through 25. I was also an active drinker from around 20 until about a year ago. I'm 41. I've read a lot about what could happen to the brain, and I feel like I can relate when I read such material. Do you think that I should take an antidepressant due to my lack of drive in life and motivation? Please help and thank you.

You are wise to be concerned about possible damage to your brain, since many drugs, including alcohol, can have deleterious impacts on brain functioning. Some of these changes can be longer term, but fortunately the brain is very resilient. But in addition to substance use, other factors such as stress, depression and even normal aging deplete the brain of chemicals known as neurotransmitters (serotonin, GABA, adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, etc.) and also of a nutrient called NAD—nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide—a coenzyme of niacin, or vitamin B3.

There are many factors—physical, emotional, and spiritual—that can predispose a person to chemical dependency or relapse, which is why it’s especially important to take good care of yourself after years of “abuse.” Good care includes exercise, sleep, diet, and addressing any deficiencies—food allergies or intolerances, adrenal support, and more—along with psychological and spiritual support for the issues that might have prompted you to overindulge in drugs and alcohol in the first place.​ And if you have not had a full medical work-up by a licensed professional, including a full battery of lab tests, that might shed some light on your "lack of drive and motivation​" and I absolutely recommend that you do so.

I have seen that nutrient supplementation, particularly NAD, can lead to a profound improvement in brain functioning and is an extremely valuable intervention in early and longer-term recovery. In our facility, we help patients withdraw from addictive substances with an intravenous formula of NAD, which gives the brain what it needs to return to proper functioning, including increased production of neurotransmitters. Our protocols also include oral supplementation such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. All are completely nutrient-based, consisting of compounds a healthy body makes naturally. Although oral supplements are available over the counter, unfortunately, oral NAD supplements have not worked for anyone we know who has used them. The dosage is usually very low and the fillers are questionable. NAD is a very fragile coenzyme and does not hold its potency when processed incorrectly. It’s also not clear whether it survives the human gut intact because we find that the NAD nasal spray works better than the oral supplements, though not as effectively as the intravenous solution (virtually all of our staff use the nasal spray to enhance brain function and as an anti-aging supplement). Thanks for your question and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Paula Norris, M.Ed., LPC, FAPA, is the founder of Springfield Wellness Center, in Springfield, Louisiana. Full bio.

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