Addiction is a powerful problem to overcome. It may start gradually, but it can quickly progress into a larger issue, causing real, physical harm to our bodies. For some, addiction can be extremely pernicious, causing them to do things that they do not want to do, and at times, even doing things completely against their character. Once this downward spiral begins, it can be extremely hard to pull back out.
Drugs like nicotine actually change the structure of your brain. It actually affects the dopamine receptors in your brain, causing a temporary rush or “buzz.” The brain, after being continually exposed to the drug, actually adjusts the level of dopamine that it naturally produces in order to compensate for the drug. This is a physical change in the brain, which is why it is so hard to just “decide” to stop using.
People who experience this change often have decreased feelings of joy and well being. They then have to smoke more just to feel normal. The more cigarettes they smoke, the more they need in order to feel normal.
This kind of drug usage can also effect emotions, thought processes and other perfunctory functions of the brain. People who are addicted will very often sacrifice their reputation, dignity, and respect all in order to obtain the drug. In fact, the addict will even go so far as to risk their own life and put their personal safety in danger in order to obtain the drug. Drug addiction is a very serious illness that should be taken as serious as the consequences.
Drug addicts often say that the desire to use drugs actually outweighs even the most basic needs such as eating, sleeping, and having sex. The strong need for drugs turns from a voluntary reaction to an involuntary response, and those other things just don’t seem to matter anymore.
After an individual is exposed to these neurological changes, the desire for the drug will always be there even after they have stopped using the drug. This is why so many people end up relapsing after a short period of recovery.
Beating the Addiction and Avoiding Relapse
Beating drug addiction isn’t going to happen overnight. When you develop a biological dependence, and your neural pathways have actually changed, it will probably take more than a kind word and a determined attitude to get through it. Treating an addiction can be thought of like treating any other injury. Something about the body is no longer functioning properly, but the right structure and support will give you a foundation to start healing and give your body a chance to recover.
You can set up this kind of support structure by being accountable to someone. Whether that’s a professional or just a very close friend, just having someone else who knows and understands your problems can be a big help. You can also help yourself by staying active and healthy. Many relapses happen when a person stops taking care of the basic necessities. Depression can start to seep in when you stop eating or sleeping properly, and then it will be easier to return to the drug of choice to escape those feelings. Exercise and staying active is a great antidepressant. While an increased workout certainly won’t help you kick all your problems at once, it can help you build positive feelings in a much more natural way. This, in turn, will help you get through the drug addiction recovery process and avoid a lot of the traps that lead to relapse.
About the author: Mark Kastleman is with Candeo Behavior Change and he enjoys helping others overcome any addiction problems they may be facing. He also enjoys traveling with his friends and family.