As a premier Orange County drug rehab center, Clear Life Recovery understands the tricky psychological aspects and common misconceptions surrounding addiction and recovery. Perhaps the most prevalent of these misconceptions is the idea that addiction has something to do with a person’s morality or character – or the lack thereof. Thankfully, this myth can be dispelled by examining what’s going on inside the brain of someone with a substance use disorder (SUD).
Why Do We Connect Addiction to a Failure of Morals?
When you’re in the throes of an addiction or watching a loved one struggle with a SUD, it is easy to make moral and even character judgments about the situation:
- “I keep failing because I’m a weak person. I’ve never been able to handle things well.”
- “It isn’t that hard to say no to drugs and alcohol. Why does he keep giving in?”
- “She just promised me last week that this time would be different. I’m sick of her lies, and I don’t understand why she isn’t trying harder.”
Unfortunately, these judgments are quite common. That’s due to how we perceive substance use disorder or addiction as a choice or type of behavior rather than an illness.
Many life situations improve with a positive attitude, a solid plan, and dedicated effort. It’s natural to think that these things would also help someone beat addiction. Therefore, many people assume the lack of improvement in someone with a SUD directly results from them not adequately planning, staying on track, or trying hard enough in general.
When we’re dealing with addiction, this type of thinking tends to be more harmful than helpful to the recovery process.
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Why It’s Crucial to Understand the Physiological Aspects of Addiction
Drugs alter the levels of neurotransmitters and hormones in our bodies. Each drug dose tips the scales a little further away from the natural state of homeostasis, where the body can self-regulate and come back to normal.
Eventually, the brain will reach a point where it can no longer compensate and get back to normal before the next dose is introduced into the system. The brain begins to rely on those drug chemicals to feel normal. If the time between doses gets too long, the brain will send out strong signals in the form of cravings and withdrawal symptoms that the drug is necessary and the need for the next dose is urgent.
A similar principle regulates hunger and satiety. Try suddenly fasting for days on end and see how your body’s hunger and energy levels adjust to tell you, in no uncertain terms, that you need food immediately. Now imagine the internal war being fought inside your loved one’s brain every time they resist the urge to use drugs.
Addiction is About Brain Chemistry, Not Trying Harder
From an outside perspective, friends and family can’t see how hard their loved one is internally struggling. The battle isn’t raging on the surface as it would be with other types of illnesses. You wouldn’t tell someone with a high fever to buck up and try harder to heal; you would encourage that person to seek medical help, take medicines, and allow themself to rest, recover, and heal fully.
Even for a person suffering from a SUD, it is hard to keep this in mind. Basically, it’s easy to lose track of how brain chemistry affects our moods, thoughts, decisions, and coping mechanisms. Consider how different this discussion would be if it were about sleep. Obviously, there would be a big difference in how you feel after sleeping well versus not sleeping at all. Without enough sleep, you would feel groggy, slow, even impaired, and your outlook would be more negative. This is the power of brain chemicals.
Someone attempting to beat addiction without addressing this crucial physiological aspect could be fighting a losing battle. Thankfully, that’s why addiction treatment programs make a huge difference.
Seeking an Orange County Drug Rehab Center?
Qualified, addiction-focused medical help and a comprehensive recovery program await you or your loved one. Addiction treatment addresses both the psychology and the physiology of drug use and withdrawal. Through the recovery process, a person gains sustainable and manageable solutions for both.
There’s no need to struggle alone any longer.
Give Clear Life Recovery a call or message us using our online contact form. Our knowledgeable, compassionate intake specialists will answer your questions and guide you toward the most effective treatment options for your situation.