For someone on the outside, addiction can seem wholly irrational and self-destructive. A person addicted to drugs or alcohol seems to make increasingly degenerate choices and eschew family, friends, career, and relationships for the sake of a drug. But addiction is not about moral choices; it’s a result of brain chemistry and distinct neurological processes occurring in the brain.
Taking drugs, whether it’s downing a few beers or snorting a line of heroin, causes changes in brain structure. Drugs hack the natural dopamine reward system we all have in our brains, overriding normal function and flooding the brain with shocking amounts of pleasure-inducing, euphoric dopamine. Over time, the brain will learn that drugs feel good, and will prompt a person to seek them out—this is what causes a craving.
Food, too, causes dopamine to spike (though not to the extent that drugs do). Say, for example, that a woman eats kettlecorn one afternoon and enjoys it. The next day, she eats it again and again enjoys it. Eventually, as she continues in her pattern, her brain will learn to associate kettlecorn with pleasure, and will prompt her to eat it. Then, she has a stressful day and eats two bags of kettlecorn. Now, whenever she has a bad day, she eats as much kettlecorn as possible to cope. In a similar fashion, people become addicted to coffee, chocolate, or other indulgences. On a very small scale, this is representative of how drug addiction occurs. What begins as a way to unwind, relax, escape stress, or block out negative feelings becomes a psychological or even physical dependence that must be treated in drug rehab.
When a person is psychologically dependent on drugs, they rely on the drug to provide relief from emotional, physical, or mental pain. Whenever they feel stressed, anxious, or upset, they use drugs to take away the feeling, rather than using healthy coping mechanisms to handle the pain. Many addiction treatment centers help people to develop these healthy mechanisms as an alternative to drugs. However, if untreated, psychological dependence can progress to physical dependence.
Once a person is physically dependent on drugs or alcohol, addiction is less about seeking a high than it is about seeking a reprieve from pain. A physically dependent person will continue taking drugs in order to stave off painful (and even lethal) withdrawal symptoms brought on by a body that feels sick without the presence of drugs. These people often have to go through detoxification in an addiction recovery facility to end their physical dependence on drugs before they can begin the work of breaking their psychological dependence.
If you or someone you love is trapped in the cycle of addiction, please email or call our sensitive representatives today, and we’ll connect you with a luxury drug rehab facility where you can recover in comfort and peace. Our compassionate and caring staff are trained to provide monitored, safe detoxification for each client, and clients walk away with tools to fight cravings and healthfully cope with stress. Please contact us today to begin the journey that will change your life.