GREAT FALLS- A national survey of drug use and health shows that Montana ranks among the top ten states for illicit drug and alcohol use.
Psychiatric nurse practitioner Shelley Andous helps clients experiencing an acute psychiatric crisis, often related to addiction.
“Substances hit a particular part of our brain. It hits that pleasure center…it’s what gives us that good feeling when we use a substance,” she noted.
That good feeling, triggered by dopamine, is naturally ingrained to help us develop relationships and experience joy.
But continued drug and alcohol use can permanently alter the way brains functions on a neurochemical basis.
“If a person uses substances for a long period of time and tries to stop, the brain isn’t going to function the way it did before they started using, which means they’re going to have a more difficult time experiencing good feelings,” Andous said.
Which she says is a direct correlation to the state’s high suicide rates.