Inside the Mind of an Addict
Addiction can overrun a person’s life and completely control their lives and minds. It makes the addict crave drugs or alcohol and causes them to seek them out even at the cost of losing jobs and money, hurting, and even destroying relationships with family and friends, involvement in crime and being evicted from their housing. So, what causes these behaviours and why can’t they just say NO to drugs or alcohol?
Changes in Brain Chemistry
The reward systems in your brain are built to enhance your life. When you do something healthy and good for your body or mind, the chemistry in your brain ‘rewards’ you by making you feel wonderful due to dopamine being released. Acts such as bonding with your family and friends, exercising, participating in a hobby you enjoy, having sex or even eating, create a feeling of pleasure in your brain which makes you want to repeat the actions again to keep those pleasurable feelings happening.
When a person uses drugs, the amount of dopamine that is released is 10 times the amount that is released during sex. When these extreme amounts of dopamine are released regularly, it causes the pleasure pathways in the brain to rewire to begin to expect these huge amounts to be released. Because the brain now expects those large amounts of dopamine, when the person now participates in activities they used to enjoy (which release regular amount of dopamine) the person will feel less pleasure, as the pleasure pathways in their brain are now barley being affected. Now, the only thing that will bring them any rewarding, pleasurable feelings are the drugs and alcohol they put into their system.
Tolerance and Compulsion
Tolerance to a drug happens over time when the brain becomes used to the huge amounts of dopamine that are regularly released from the repeated use of drugs. This means that the user no longer feels the same amount of pleasure when taking the drug and will increase the amount they use in order to feel any form of a high. When this stage of addiction occurs, the addict will often continue taking drugs just to ‘feel normal’ instead of using it to become high or intoxicated.
Without the drug, the person now becomes depressed and anxious and often physically ill from withdrawal symptoms when they don’t use the substance and so they feel they need to have the drugs to alleviate the unpleasant feelings. Even though the addict may want to quit using drugs, their now distorted thinking makes them believe that it is impossible to live without them because of how they feel when they aren’t using. They feel intense urges to use the drug to get the original feelings of pleasure they had when first using. Even though they won’t be able to get these feelings again, the compulsion to seek it is overwhelming.
What to do now
If you or a loved one are fighting addiction, there is help available. Though you may feel hopeless at the moment, there are treatments available that are highly successful. Recovery is a lifelong process that needs to be worked at every day, but it does get easier! Residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs can help you or your loved one get your lives back and start actually enjoying life again, drug and alcohol free. Seahaven Private offers residential rehab programs that work with clients to heal their mental and physical health as well as their social and emotional well-being. Feel free to give us a call on 03 8738 4252 and speak to one of our friendly staff.
We are here to help
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, let Seahaven guide you to a place of safety and recovery. Our rehab retreat is a sanctuary from the turmoil of living with alcohol or other drug addiction.
Get in touch today to start your journey to recovery.