"Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.” – Carrie Fisher
"You don’t get over an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it’s easier to not use. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will catch up with you again."
Addiction, taken from the Greek word Addicere, literally means to enslave oneself through one's own actions. This is the sad truth and terrible irony of any addictive process. Individuals consume a mind-altering chemical to alter their state of being. This is generally either to reduce anxiety, worry, and stress, or to produce increased excitement, adrenaline, and feelings of power. In our current society in particular, chemicals have become so much more refined and potent that their addictability, their capacity to cause massive neurological change, and their toxicity are at unprecedented levels. As an individual increases their use, two fundamental and linked changes occur. The first is the slow psychological and/or physical dependence the brain and body forms with the chemical. This causes increasing doses of the mood altering drug to be ingested in order to achieve the initial high. An visual example of the inevitable loss of pleasure from drug use over time is below.
The second is the body-brain adaptation that occurs as your natural calming, feel-good, and adrenaline chemicals are replaced by the introduction of the drug. Over time the brain produces less and less of these natural chemicals and becomes solely dependent on the external chemical for relief. Without the presence of the chemical the individual generally shows increased anxiety, agitation, depression, and/or volatile mood swings. It is common in many individuals to experience anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.
Few people understand that while the drug use creates a high, drug use is increasingly stressful to the brain. This results in the elevated release of cortisol, also called the stress hormone. The combination of external drugs and internal cortisol release have been shown to substantially decrease judgment and reason in the individuals decisions. See below:
Their are many paths to recovery from drugs and alcohol. However, before counseling, rehab, AA, NA, SMART or Refuge Recovery can help you, you must recognize the need for help. Drug and alcohol abuse slowly drain the joy from life. They take away your memories and your ability to feel joy, connection, and love on the deepest level. There are ways out. Reach out and lets get started!
For a wide range of information and resources related to substance abuse, take a look at NIDA's website. https://www.drugabuse.gov/