Addiction & You
Contrary to popular belief, addiction is not a problem restricted to the homeless, the criminal, and the reckless rebellion of teenagers with bad parents. The truth of the matter is that addiction can strike anyone, from any walk of life. More and more often, doctors are finding addiction in soccer moms and school teachers, businessmen and coaches, and more, all for various reasons. People who are prescribed painkillers after an injury or invasive surgery find themselves addicted to the medications given to them by their doctor, recreational use becomes a serious problem, or an occasional drink after a long day of work becomes a daily episode of binge drinking.
Addiction has always been viewed with scorn and derision, something to be ashamed of, as no reasonable, sensible, or decent person would engage in such activity. Unfortunately, this is the stigma that has been attached to addiction for generations. This is largely due to people not understanding the true nature of addiction and how it can occur. It’s a common misconception that if an addict really wanted to, they could quit, and they don’t because they’re weak-willed or lack moral fiber. In reality, the addict is helpless to break the chains their addiction has on them.
Every substance works a little differently, but the one thing they all have in common is that they all alter the user’s brain chemistry. The brain is rewired to seek continued use of the chemical in question, convinced that it is vital to everyday survival. At this point, the brain treats seeking out this substance like a self-preservation instinct, as if seeking water or air. The addict has no control over this compulsion, as the substance has altered their brain chemistry to seek out this substance at the cost of all else, altering behavioral patterns to support this need.
The Importance of Treatment
It’s important to understand that addiction is a progressive disease. This means that it will only get worse the longer it remains untreated and it will never get better on it’s own. Seeking treatment can be frightening, as it seems like getting clean is an impossible struggle and you feel alone. You’re not alone, though, and the decision to break free from your addiction is one of the best choices you’ll ever make in your life.
Since addiction rewires the brain, altering brain chemistry, it’s important to realize that professional help is needed to battle this disease. Medical professionals who are trained in treating addiction will help you through your struggles, assisting you through your withdrawals to ease your discomfort, and teaching you valuable skills and coping mechanisms. By utilizing these skills, you’ll be prepared to deal with temptation in the future, avoiding situations or acquaintances that may cause you to relapse, and live a long, healthy life of recovery.
One important thing to bear in mind is that there is no “cure” for addiction, but it can be managed. It’s similar to diseases like diabetes in that it will always be there, lurking in the shadows, but with the proper diet and insulin (attending meetings, 12-step program, etc), it can be treated and managed to keep it in recession.
After Rehab, Recovery
Once the chains of addiction have been broken, you’ll start to see the world in a whole new light. Without the chemical-induced haze hanging over you or the constant cravings for more dominating your every waking moment, you’ll be able to experience life as it’s meant to be. While your addiction will always be present, like any disease in remission, proper care can keep it in remission, where it no longer rules over your daily life.
Recovery is not a destination, it is not a cure. As previously stated, there is no cure for addiction, so it’s best to think of recovery as the way you choose to live your life, rather than a goal to be reached. Your goal was to get clean, and once you’re clean, you’ve reached it! The trick now is to stay clean, which isn’t going to be easy, but worth the challenge. Vigilance is the key to recovery, always being aware of potential temptations and being able to deal with them or avoid them completely. It will be a challenge, but certainly one you’ll be prepared to face and is worth the effort.