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Many people mistakenly believe that addiction is a one-way street. They might believe people who abuse substances are simply being led astray. But while that may be the case at the beginning, people can struggle with addiction beyond their control. When people take drugs or consume alcohol, they are changing the structure and chemicals in the brain. Check out this article about how alcohol changes a person’s brain. Drugs interfere with the way neurons send, receive, and process signals via neurotransmitters. Once a person starts abusing substances, they literally change their own brain to make it more difficult to overcome.
Whichever type of addiction you may have, the reality is that it is a chronic and often lifelong condition that requires constant vigilance. Read on for helpful advice about the addictive nature of drugs, stages of recovery, and steps to start your path to help overcome your addiction.
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What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing mental health condition that affects the brain’s reward circuitry. This means that people addicted to drugs or alcohol experience the same pleasure and relief from eating, drinking, or using a drug. Resulting in people compulsively returning to drug use, even though it causes significant problems in their lives.
The Addictive Nature Of Drugs
Addiction is fueled by the desire to obtain and/or consume a drug. It’s caused by changes in thought, emotion, and action in the brain that result in uncontrollable cravings. Drugs like cannabis and cocaine are addictive because they affect the brain’s reward system. When people are addicted to drugs, the reward system in their brains becomes oversensitive. As a result, drugs trigger the brain’s reward system with extreme frequency and intensity. This is how drug users feel compelled to keep using drugs despite the negative consequences.
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The Process Of Recovery
If you’ve looked after a recovering loved one, you might have some idea how to deal with addiction. But recovery is an ongoing process that requires people to make lifestyle changes that promote health, happiness, and success. The recovery process is based on evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness. People who have used drugs can recover and are encouraged to seek help, but it’s not an easy road to stay on.
The recovery process is not a linear, step-by-step process. People who have an addiction will have unique challenges and experiences. Each person’s recovery journey is individual, and everyone will progress and relapse at different rates.
The Helps, The Hurts, And The Helpmates
The helps are things you do to help yourself beat your addiction. This can include attending support groups, seeking help from a professional counselor, getting professional aid, and developing healthy coping mechanisms. Helping yourself during the early recovery process is essential because it lets you know what you need to succeed in later recovery stages.
Hurts are things that you feel due to using drugs. When people addicts, they cause pain not just to themselves but many other people as well. Common feelings of guilt, shame, regret, and failure are all examples of hurt.
Helpmates are people who support you and help you with your recovery. Your helping friends can be people you meet in support groups, counselors, 12-step mentors, and sober friends willing to help you recover.
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How To Beat Addiction
The best way to beat your addiction is to recognize it for what it is: a sick brain disorder. Your only hope is to treat the illness with medication and/or therapy. If you suspect you have a drug or alcohol problem, seek professional help immediately. It is never too late to get help and beat your addiction. Resources like this Medication-Assisted Treatment Program are designed to get you back to full health.
If you’re ready to get started on the road to recovery, here are some helpful tips to try along with attending support groups, seeking help from a professional, and using healthy coping mechanisms-
Keep A Journal
A journal is a powerful tool for self-reflection. It lets you see where you’re at, what you may be doing wrong, and how you can get better.
Join An Addiction Support Group
This is a very important step. You might need to go to a support group daily and definitely weekly. An addiction support group provides peer support, which is highly beneficial for beating addiction. Peer support helps people build confidence, make new friends, and connect with others going through the same thing you are. It’s also good to know you are not alone in what you are fighting. Being in an addiction support group is important to have accountability and give you hope.
Cut It Out
Many people believe that they can occasionally drink while beating their addiction. The truth is that you should never drink or do drugs any more especially while you’re trying to beat your addiction. If you have an addiction, your body and brain literally is physically addicted. You cannot have any substance such as alcohol or drugs. Don’t kid yourself.
It is never too late to get help and beat your addiction. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been using drugs or alcohol; you can always get help.
There are several treatment options for drug and alcohol abuse. Whether it is starting off small with nicotine patches to help keep your need for smoking at bay, behavioral counseling to turn you off of drinking, or even getting yourself opiate addiction treatment, you have many options when it comes to treating your specific kind of addiction. While some of these treatments work well, others may not work for you. Speak with your doctor or medical and mental professional for help on deciding the best treatment for what you are facing.
Don’t try to “get by” on your own. Self-medicating can be dangerous and can often backfire. Some people will change one addiction for another. This is a slippery slope. You need to find out why you are self-medicating with alcohol and drugs or you might switch to overeating, gambling, or any other addictive behavior.
Stay connected with your family and loved ones during your recovery. Stay connected with your friends, your work colleagues, and your community. Don’t isolate yourself but also definitely don’t hang out with people that have a propensity to drink or take drugs. Be very careful with who you share your life and make sure they are people that will help and encourage you during recovery.
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Beating Your Addiction; One Day At A Time
People who beat their addiction can do so one day at a time. If you pretend you don’t have an addiction even a decade later, you might fall back into your old habits. You cannot beat an addiction that you don’t acknowledge. I haven’t drank for over 14 years now, and every once in a while I will really crave a drink (or 20). It’s usually during a stressful time or very sad or depressive period. I still have to think of that AA mantra – “What’s the next right thing to do in the next 5 minutes?”
Likewise, you cannot conquer addiction if you don’t believe you can beat it.
If you feel down on yourself or think, “why me?” or “what’s wrong with me?” just remember that you’re beating your addiction one day at a time. You are not alone in trying to overcome addition. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to have a bad thought or two. It’s okay to have a bad feeling. It’s okay to be human. So don’t beat yourself up for it. Just try to move on and stay positive and seek help from a professional such as a mental health professional and/or a medical professional. Remember that you’re defeating your addiction one day at a time and somedays one minute at a time.
If you are feeling down or depressed for more days than not, please seek medical attention. If you are feeling like you cannot go on, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat here>>> https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ Or visit the suicide prevention lifeline at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/