Explore the Science of Habit Change

Medically reviewed by 
Chelsea Tersavich, PA-C
Published on 
November 23, 2023
Updated on 

When we rewire habits, a process called neuroplasticity occurs in our brains.

Neuroplasticity refers to the brain's ability to adapt and change by creating new neural connections and pathways or modifying existing ones. When we form new habits or break old ones, these neural pathways are altered:

Formation of New Neural Pathways

When we start to develop a new habit, specific neurons in our brains become activated.

With repetition and practice, these neurons fire together and form new connections, creating a pathway associated with the new habit.


As we continue to repeat the behavior, the newly formed neural pathway becomes strengthened.

Consistent repetition strengthens the connections between neurons involved in the habit, making the behavior more automatic and requiring less effort over time.

Weakening Old Pathways

At the same time, when we break old habits, we are weakening the neural pathways associated with those behaviors.

If we stop engaging in a particular habit, the connections between the relevant neurons in the brain begin to weaken as well.

Dopamine and Reward System

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, plays a role in habit formation.

When we engage in a behavior that brings us pleasure or satisfaction, dopamine is released, reinforcing the habit and motivating us to repeat it. Finding alternative activities that also trigger dopamine release can help reinforce new habits.


Through the Rewiring Habits pathway, you’ll break the cycle of negative habits and replace them with routines that will help you take back control of your life and build resiliency.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Important FDA Safety Information

Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.

Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).

Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergic to ketamine
  • Symptoms of psychosis or mania
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • CHF or other serious heart problem
  • Severe breathing problem
  • History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
  • History of hyperthyroidism
  • Other serious medical illness
  • Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant

Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.

While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.

  • In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
  • Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
  • Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
  • The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.

To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:

  • Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
  • Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
  • Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
  • Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
  • Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
  • Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety

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