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The Truth about Addiction

Addiction, Featured, Treatment

Yesterday a friend said, “I have a disease that tells me that I need to feel better than the way I feel right now, all the time.” Think about the strength of that statement: Feel better. Right now. All the time.

There is a phenomenon in recovery known as “euphoric recall.” It’s the mind’s proclivity to recall the feeling of the substance you were once actively addicted to. It’s deceptive how selective this recollection is; highlighting the buzz and not the consequences thereafter.

But as we grow in recovery we learn to override these episodes of euphoric recall, training our minds to roll the film all the way through. The new neural pathways we forge trudge past those feelings of fleeting euphoria and directly to the truth that short-felt highs led to long-felt lows.

The Truth about Addiction

It’s easy for those unfamiliar with addiction to super-simplify addiction and say things like, “Just grow up or just stop using all the time.” But, as the science behind addiction advances, these sentiments of super-simplicity are being challenged, calling them what they are: ignorance. And as facts become harder to deny, ignorance becomes harder to defend. According to Dr. Michael Miller of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “The disease [of addiction] is about underlying neurology, not outward actions.”

Thus, addiction is not just about bad behavior and poor choices. Rather, it involves the complex impact drugs and alcohol have on a person’s neurobiology which is then expressed in the person’s choices and behaviors.

  • The good news is that the pull of addiction referred to as cravings can diminish over time. Cravings are defined as an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing [in this case for drugs or alcohol] and stem from complex neurological, bio-chemical, psychological interactions. Overcoming cravings requires time. This initially requires abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and a period of detoxification. During this time the brain begins the long process (from 4 months up to 2 years) to readjust to a normal biochemical balance. Long after physical cravings go away, mental triggers may linger because triggers have to do with thoughts inspired by brain chemistry and old neural pathways. In recovery, the brain is eventually “re-wired” to think normally, without substances.
  • Recovery requires change and change requires courage, work and support. People engaged in the journey of change must face their fears. People facing their fears gain significant benefit from doing so in a community of people participating in the same journey. Entering into and sustaining long-term recovery requires the person to undergo behavioral changes. It takes steps, it takes willingness, and it takes time. Recovery isn’t for the faint of heart or for those who need it. It is for those brave souls who have the courage, the willingness and the desire to accept help and make their recovery happen. As this transformation begins we begin to see that we are no longer a danger to ourselves and others. We realize we are loving, caring, intelligent, kind productive people and are deserving of love, kindness, respect, success and peace.
  • The idea of treatment and recovery can be overwhelming. Here at Right Turn-IMPACT, we believe in you. We know you can recover just like the millions of others who came before you. We are here to help you start your journey and will help you gain the insights, skills as well as the supports you need to have long-term success.

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