What is an addiction and how does it happen?
Scientific research has proven that addiction is definitely a disease of the brain. There is a major difference between addiction and simple use or abuse. People who use marijuana or drink alcohol too much can still exert control over their behavior. However, once they become addicted, their brains change in such a way that they cannot live without drugs or alcohol. At this point, they have less ability to say “No.” Much control is lost because the brain has changed in complex ways. Addictive drugs such as alcohol,cocaine, opioids and prescription drugs can affect the structure and function of the brain. Just like in an electrical system, drugs can change the circuits in the brain that control emotions and motivation, impairing an addicted person’s power of choice. With repeated heavy use, the structure and shape of brain cells and the connections between them change radically. The brains of addicts are very different than those of non-addicts.
Of course, this doesn’t happen overnight. People begin using alcohol and/or other drugs because these substances make them feel good. These drugs cause an increase in certain neurotransmitters that, in turn, produce feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Over time and with continued use, addictive drugs cause long-lasting changes in the brain’s pleasure and reward system. Chronic use of a drug to stimulate these neurotransmitters reduces the brain’s natural ability to produce pleasure without the drug. Then, when a person stops using drugs, he no longer can experience pleasure and may feel depressed and anxious. After a while, alcohol and drugs are needed just to feel “normal”.
Why doesn’t everyone who drinks or uses drugs become addicted? Vulnerability to addiction is affected by many factors. Genetic predisposition appears to be a major predisposing factor particularly with alcohol dependence. Children of alcoholics are 2 to 4 times more likely to become alcoholics or drug addicts and more than 60% of alcoholics have family histories of alcoholism. Genetics may especially play a role in early-onset alcoholism.
What Are The Signs Of Addiction?
Addiction is out of the closet and into the spotlight. What does this do for the average person? It lessens the stigma that was for so long associated with addiction, and it helps you understand that you are not alone — that addiction can happen to anyone, anyplace, anytime regardless of race, gender or financial status. Be aware the signs of addiction.
- Questioning. People who don’t have an addiction problem don’t wonder if they have a problem. It’s simply not something they think about because they don’t need to. The mind is funny in that way. If we’re paying attention, the mind tells us what we need to know whether we want to hear it or not. If it is haunting you with questions such as “What am I doing,” “Why do I keep doing it,” and “Why can’t I stop,” take note. Your problem may have crossed that line into addiction.
- Defensiveness. When others touch on the topic, do you feel your blood pressure rise, and do you instantly defend yourself with statements like: “It’s not a problem for me, “If other people don’t understand, it’s their problem,” “I can stop doing it anytime I want to,” or “I’m not hurting anyone but myself?” But, in your inner core, do you know these things aren’t true?
- Blaming. Placing blame for your behavior on others or a situation is an old ploy of addicts that keeps them from taking responsibility for their choices. “It’s not my fault….” is a symptom that your behavior may be out of control.
- Secrets and lies. Often, addicts are the only ones who think their addiction is a secret. They believe the lies are hiding the secret, but those close to them have noticed they are drinking too much, abusing prescription drugs, gambling away necessary funds, overeating, purging, shopping, living in clutter, etc. If addicts know that others know, but they continue to tell lies, then the only ones they’re fooling is themselves.
- Time and effort. The time addicts put into the bad behavior, and into finding ways to continue doing it, takes away from other parts of their lives. The effort it takes to manipulate situations and other people so that they might indulge in bad behavior takes away from the effort they could be putting into building better relationships, getting an education, building a career, or simply living life free.
- Guilt and shame. How you feel about your behavior should be a clear indication about whether or not it’s a problem. If you feel guilt and shame, but you can’t seem to stop what you’re doing, then the problem has become an addiction. No one wants to feel guilt and shame, so if you inflict it on yourself repeatedly, then that’s something you should take a hard look at.
- Isolation. Convincing yourself that no one loves you, others don’t understand, or you don’t fit into the world around you to justify your behavior may convince you that you are protecting yourself from more pain and disappointment, but it will leave you feeling alone and empty. Telling yourself you are different and can handle things that others are not able to handle will only prolong the problem and escalate the possibility of serious addiction.
Drug and/or alcohol treatment is best resolved in a licensed residential addiction treatment center. At Destiny, our team of medical and clinical specialists, work to resolve your concerns with you. Unfortunately, most rehab treatment centers simply address the symptoms of addiction… not the cause. This results in an incredibly high, industry wide relapse rate of 70% plus. Why? Many traditional therapies alone CANNOT resolve addiction. If you’re lucky enough to be in the 30% that make it, you are destined to a life of daily will power challenges and endless counseling. That is not living, that is surviving, one day at a time, with your addiction still in control.
At Destiny, we understand that traditional therapy (counseling) serves an integral part in your recovery. However, counseling alone cannot correct neural irregularities, deep seated emotional trauma, neurotransmitter regulation, hormone regulation or nutrient and immune system recovery. This requires rehab, what we would call a virtual symphony of interwoven therapies designed to eliminate symptoms, discover and eradicate addiction triggers, ultimately empowering one for a future life of purposeful action. At Destiny, we do more than just address your addiction. We prepare you for living life so you can live rather than simply surviving.