How an addiction is formed

Addiction can be a handcuff on your life...
Addiction can be a handcuff on your life…

Last time, we started our discussion on addiction. Please find it here

Being addicted to alcohol, drugs and any other thing we have lost control of is a process that may take long before it degenerates. It doesn’t just happen in one day. Reason it can catch you unaware in the long run. During my short course on addictions and mental health, I was taught about something called the REWARD PATHWAY.  Now, because the idea of this blog is to simplify some complicated issues, I’ll try my best to explain in basic terms what the Reward Pathway is.

The Reward Pathway is the pathway of neurons that passes through the Limbic Region to the Frontal Cortex. This Reward Pathway developed originally to promote survival by rewarding bahaviour that brings us pleasure such as feeling, drinking, seeking shelter, etc., but drugs of abuse stimulate this same Reward Pathway over time. This is the primary reason you always want more bottles and that is how addiction gradually develops. Because when these substances used in excess or above limits, they may actually take over the normal functioning of the Pathway, making you now dependent on drugs of abuse to get that same feeling of pleasure.

Every habit we form has its roots somewhere in our brain and as we continue to feed on it, it starts to bear its own fruit. The consequences of which we must now live with.

Below is some of DR STEVEN M MELEMIS PH.D, M.D, report on How addiction feels:

An addictive substance feels good because it stimulates the pleasure center of the brain through neurotransmitters such as dopamine and GABA. If you have a genetic predisposition, addictive substances don’t just feel good. They feel so good that you will want to chase after them.

This is where addiction comes in. If you have a genetic predisposition, addictive substances feel so good that you are willing to suffer negative consequences in order to get more and to continue to feel the high.

Addictive substances feel different inside an addict’s brain than they do to a non-addict. This is why the two sides have difficulty understanding each other. In someone who is not addicted, drugs and alcohol only produce a mild high. Therefore a non-addict cannot understand why the addict would go to such lengths, when it is clearly destroying their life.

Denial is a big part of addiction. Because addictive substances feel good, an addict will initially deny that they have a problem. In the long-run addiction isolates you from the people and activities and that mean the most to you.

You can break the pathway to that addiction now if you will realize that within you exist a natural “feel high” capacity already. You do not need substance to feel good or for confidence boost to the point of self destruction. You are too greatly created than that. Find out what other things you enjoy doing; like painting, writing, singing, maybe reading, care giving, swimming or even taking a walk, until you’re able to have alcohol at your body’s minimum level. These things, as long as you enjoy them have the same capacity to give you the fulfillment you may be looking for in overuse of alcohol and drugs.

For me writing, reading, volunteering, and taking a walk helps to manage those moments when you feel like you need to numb some pain. This doesn’t mean I don’t sip alcohol but I’m very conscious of my body’s limit. I cannot quantify how much this seemingly little things have helped me coped with some very difficult times in my life. Find out yours and just enjoy it. Don’t replace with external substances before you can find your pleasure and happiness.

You cannot experience your true self being addicted.

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