Substance addiction is a double edged sword. It is a physical compulsion coupled with a mental obsession with the substance being the focus. Because it attacks from these two fronts, it is an extremely hard problem to deal with. The disease is progressive, incurable and fatal, but can be arrested at almost any stage.
A person having a genetic predisposition to the disease is usually not aware of it. The threshold between abuse and addiction is invisible and different in all individual sufferers. Some people can be successful social drinkers for years, and then - literally overnight, become alcoholic. Others are addicted from the first experience.
The pattern of addiction:
A drug is consumed and creates a desirable effect (not necessarily a high, it may be just a feeling of contentment or oblivion or pain relief)
The behavior is repeated because of the desired effects
The brain builds a tolerance to the substance, so it takes more each time to achieve the same effect. As addiction sets in, these original sensations that are pursued are never achieved again.
The brain becomes "used" to the substance and creates triggers when the substance is not used to turn the persons attention towards it (cravings).
After a period the person is spending more time preoccupied with the drug and therefore retarding mental and emotional growth as these thought patterns become deeply entrenched. Aside from the undesirable effects of the abuse of the drug itself, one of the outcomes of being so preoccupied with the substance is that it prevents healthy relationships from being formed and maintained.
After a further period of time, the brain also sends out physical indicators when the drug is not being used (sweating, shaking), known as withdrawals. These physical symptoms are caused by a release of chemicals that occurs while the drug is being used, especially in the case of CNS (Central Nervous System) depressants such as alcohol. The drug is depressing the CNS, so the brain counteracts with "stimulants"
Because the sufferer is caught between the states of either being under the influence, recovering from the last consumption or thinking about the next one, their lives and the lives of all those around them become severely affected. High absenteeism from employment due to intoxication/
If the drug is illegal, usage creates a network of people around the sufferer who are in the same situation to ensure a constant supply. Because substances sometimes cost a great deal of money, the person learns the "tricks of the trade" to procure it, mainly prostitution and theft. What would have at one stage been considered as "insanity" by the sufferer slowly becomes the daily norm as this network of people begins to play a bigger role in their life.
Because most drugs decrease inhibition and impair areas of the brain which control aggression and memory, incidents occur whilst under the influence which would be considered out of character for the person. As periods of intoxication increase, so do the incidents. As the impairment to these areas of the brain increase, the incidents may become more violent. Once again what was considered "insane" now becomes normal for the addict.
The above pattern is repeated many times and becomes ingrained, so even when the usage is totally stopped, many of the thought patterns and coping mechanisms remain. Ceasing the consumption is not enough; the sufferer needs to learn how to cope mentally and emotionally through life without the substance and how to integrate into mainstream society which can take many years.
Even after long periods of abstinence from the substance the brain remembers it very well! Should the addict begins using again, the downhill slide is extremely quick. You do not get to start from scratch.
Addiction does not disappear.
It's in you....but it sleeps....
By working the 12 step recovery programme you may develop the ability to choose whether to wake it up or not!
‘Twin Rivers is an Addiction Recovery and Personal Development Centre providing individualized, professional treatment and counselling to clients at highly competitive rates, in a secure, secluded and warm setting far removed from unhealthy influences and totally dedicated to introducing clients to an improved way of thinking that will positively impact behaviour and lead towards a more constructive and meaningful life’