There are two main reasons for drinking alcohol and taking drugs: 1) to increase pleasure and 2) to reduce pain
What starts innocently through experimenting, socialising, after a while turns into compulsive illusion of self-healing, leading to loss of control, depression, anger and destroyed lives of its own and of significant others.
My clients and their dependant family members often ask me, how’s that possible that substance that once brought them a rush of pleasure and release of pain, could cause so much destruction in their life…
“Addiction” to be diagnosed shall involve craving for sth intensively, loss of control over it’s use, and continuing involvement despite adverse consequences. Today it is recognized as a chronic disease that changes both brain structure and functioning. But it can be broken!
(Please note: Changes in a way we see “addiction” are coming. Some things and scientific findings just don’t add up. More and more loudly we ask the role of own choice and will in recovery. There are also voices that suggest we need to rethink the way we describe addiction. There’s a light in a tunnel for a better understanding and treatment!!! My purpose here is not to define addiction, but support individuals who are suffering. See my approach for more information! )
Here’s simply how addictive behaviors and substances hijack the brain from Neurological perspective (one of many ways to look at addictive behaviors)
Whenever we feel good, our brain rewards us through releasing neurotransmitter dopamine.
In nature, rewards come with time and efforts. Addictive drugs provide a shortcut, flooding the brain with dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Almost instantly with no time or effort.
Drugs can release multiple times more dopamine than any other natural rewas. Brain gets flooded and starts producing less dopamine and shuts down dopamine receptors. It’s like when you watch TV and there’s a loud AD, so you turn down the volume. Later on you cannot hear the actual program anymore
As a result:
- you need more drug to make brain release and receive original amount of dopamine
- natural rewards (for example meetings with family, friends) cannot compete anymore with psychoactive durg – wholesale drug distributor
- brain get rewired, starts to crave for stronger and stronger doses. Lie values and priorities become redefined to serve brain’s new master – substance of choice
Among many more consequences, there’s one particular. Drugs also affect neurotransmitter called serotonine. At the beginning the use of drug/alcohol leads to the increase of serotonine amount in the brain and that makes us feel happy. After a while, with time of habitual use of drugs, serotonine levels decrease leaving a person depressed with no point to live.
Finally longter use, burns the bridges between our emotional brain and frontal cortex (logical, rational and controlling part of a brain). Result is simple:
trigger -> craving, desire for substance ->
control -> drug intake
There’s a way out to start a new life and restore our brain! However it needs time effort and patience.
In my therapy for me the priority is to reduce the harms and risks associated with the use of substance and eventually to abstain from it.
Therapy is colaborative and focuses on person’s goals and values and what the person feels comfortable and ready to tackle.
Through Motivational Interviewing, a method that enhances person’s internal motivation for behaviour change , we collaboratively explore and resolve person’s ambivalence
PARTNERS AND FAMILIES
As you probably discovered, addiction of a partner of family member affects you as well.
There’s guilt, fear, anger, uncertainty and hopelessness. Life with addict is like being on emotional rollercoaster. You become an emotional puppet totally dependable on addict’s mood and sobriety.
Whether you feel that things get out of hand or whether you suffer because of someone else’s addiction,
contact me for support and help!