Addiction Recovery: Every Question Answered

Many people think that the term addiction only applies to instances of drug abuse. However, addiction comes in various forms. Being compulsively involved in sexual activity can be a symptom of sex addiction. In short, anything done to an excessive degree can turn into an addiction. This happens because when we practice something in excess, our brain secretes dopamine, which is a pleasure drug. The more we practice a certain habit, the more pleasure we receive. 

At one point, the brain stops stimulating dopamine because of the diminishing marginal utility of pleasure. This means the amount of pleasure (dopamine buzz) we receive each time we perform an act that makes us happy or satisfied decreases when we perform it in continuity. Before we take a closer look at addiction recovery, let’s learn about addiction and how it affects the brain. 

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is defined as a disease by most medical associations in the United States. Like diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses, addiction also latches on to our body and creates adverse impacts. 

Addiction usually begins through gateway drugs. These are small hits of nicotine or other addictive substances that are legally accepted but socially discouraged. An addict doesn’t start smoking heroin, meth, or other harmful substances from the start; the process is slow, and the addiction becomes evident over time. 

Addiction affects the brain and causes changes in its functions. Here are a few reasons how addictions can affect the brain. 

How Substance Abuse Affects the Brain

Addiction taps into the reward system of the brain and changes its assessment criteria. For instance, enjoyable activities like going to the gym release dopamine, a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that is vital to a person’s experiences of pleasure. Substance abuse can change the neuron receptors of the brain to secrete dopamine upon substance abuse. Hence, the person is incentivized to abuse substances and continue receiving pleasure. 

  • Addiction Affects Memory

Over time, the neurotransmitter’s secretion in the brain stops and triggers only when these harmful substances are consumed. This affects the user’s memory as the brain retires from its regular duties, and the body starts depending on the substance. While drugs can influence the reward system, it cannot support a functioning memory. 

  • Substance Abuse Releases Stress Hormones

At one point, the body becomes immune to drugs, and the pleasure hormones stop releasing. This is the body’s natural defense system that prevents cashing out all its happy hormones. In this situation, drugs induce a state of euphoria, and the mind compensates the pleasure hormone with stress hormones. At this stage, excessive use of drugs like heroin, meth, and even alcohol can cause anxiety and depression as the euphoria ends, ultimately creating a nightmare for the abuser.

Drugs being consumed by a female in Los Angeles, California

What is Addiction Recovery?

Addiction recovery is a process that helps drug abusers return back to their everyday lives. Addiction recovery strengthens the mind of a drug abuser and allows them to become independent. An addiction recovery center provides the structure and necessary treatments to benefit the lives of those struggling with addiction.

5 Stages of Addiction Recovery

The process of recovering from addiction is never a clearly defined path. At Profound LA, each patient follows a unique treatment program and receives close attention. Some patients progress faster than others, while some take more time than usual. However, each patient goes through one or more stages of addiction recovery

Stage 1: Acknowledgement

It’s useless to enroll patients in an addiction recovery center unless they accept that they have an addiction. People who are not willing to change themselves cannot be changed under any circumstance. However, this point typically comes when substance abuse has reached its limit, and the brain is producing overwhelming stress hormones or with the help of a family intervention. People who are in their initial stages of drug addiction are hard to manage. Such individuals need to be treated with care and love. Any sort of strict action can result in the further abuse of harmful substances considering most people start drug abuse due to depression, anxiety, or societal rejection. Treating addicts harshly only strengthens their addiction and ill beliefs about the world. 

Stage 2: Awareness of Addiction

Once a person with addiction starts accepting their behavior, enrolling them into a rehab center is less challenging. At this stage, they become aware of their actions and their consequences. While they have not entirely given up drug abuse, they are at a point where intervention might help. The best thing to do here is to let the addict come to you for help. 

Stage 3: Exploring Recovery Options

This is the stage where the addict is ready to explore options for help. Choosing the best addiction recovery center is crucial at this point. The patient is looking for a place that is experienced, delicate in its approach, and offers a friendly environment. If an addict is sent to the wrong place that holds strict disciplinary actions, their addiction may grow stronger. In the worst-case scenario, they might harm themselves or commit suicide. When exploring recovery options, you should consider a place that is accessible to family members and friends so they can visit. This helps in the recovery process as emotional attachment plays an essential part in giving up drugs. 

Stage 4: Addiction Recovery Stage

This is a risky step for the addict as they learn to live without the substance they once relied on. However, every patient reacts differently to the addiction recovery stage. Moreover, seizures and shivering are less likely to affect alcohol addicts. Regardless of the substance an addict abuses, everything depends on the addiction recovery center’s welcoming and caring nature.

It’s not uncommon for drug addicts to relapse after or during the addiction recovery period. Training the mind and body to live without its substance of choice is not easy. The brain reacts to the change and causes vomiting, nausea, shivering, changes in temperature, and everything in its power to bring the addict back to their substance. This is where emotional support comes in. Talking to the addict and helping them rediscover their reason for enrolling in an addiction recovery center helps more than you might think. 

Stage 5: Post-Recovery Care

This is the most challenging stage for the addict as well as the family. There are strong chances of relapse. To keep your loved ones away from drugs, you have to tread with care. Imposing restrictions or not trusting them can cause a relapse. At this point, it’s best to treat your loved ones as if they were back to normal. Most complications arise when the family is not ready to accept that their loved one has changed. 

 A man sitting on a bench smoking an addictive substance before participating in addiction recovery

Dangers of Drug Overdose and its Symptoms

Drug addicts have a strong chance of relapsing after the recovery. In this case, the addiction can result in a drug overdose. Overdosing becomes more likely as the brain becomes immune to the substance of choice, and they will need a stronger dose to find the state of euphoria. Drug overdose can result in several health-related problems, but the worst-case scenario is death. 

Symptoms of Drug Overdose

Just like any other mental or physical problem, drug overdose also can show symptoms and signs. Watch out for these indicators, and you can rescue your loved ones before it’s too late. 

  • Changes in Vital Signs

Drug overdose is related to a severe health issue. After addiction recovery, the patient might relapse, and the outcome could be detrimental. When you start noticing a change in vital signs, such as pulse rate, heartbeat, oxygen levels, or blood sugar, it’s time to call for professional help. It is not uncommon for addicts to relapse, so don’t lose your temper or make them feel ashamed. Let them realize that a relapse will trigger the same emotional problem that once prevailed when they were addicts. 

  • Changes in Sleep Patterns and Skin Temperature

Relapse after addiction recovery has almost the same symptoms as the recovery process itself. When the brain tries to push for drug abuse, a person’s skin temperature fluctuates. Once the mind learns to live without drugs, going back to the same life will have your brain fight against drug overdose. Drug overdose also causes drastic changes in sleep patterns and dark circles underneath the eye. This is because your mind is not getting rest, and the drugs are causing stress. 

  • Chest Pain, Nausea, and Vomiting

Drug overdose is a stage in which the brain rejects the substance of choice despite the addiction. Because the brain is no longer capable of producing the pleasure hormone your body seeks, the brain is forced to release any hormone present in its storage. This could result in chest pain, nausea, and vomiting. Oral release of fluid (vomit) is the body’s response to drug overdose, and your internal organs are rejecting the addictive substance. 

If you notice these symptoms, you should immediately contact your addiction recovery center. Delaying time will only make things more challenging. 

When to Seek Addiction Recovery

Addiction recovery is something anyone with an addiction problem should seek and have readily available. There are no specific criteria they are required to meet. Addiction recovery is not limited to just substance abuse or alcohol. Sometimes, sex becomes an addiction, but people are embarrassed to ask for help. Often times, sex addiction is considered as one being overly needy. 

However, sex addiction can be serious and should be treated. In most cases, a drug abuser will be interested in more sexual activity; therefore, sex addiction is masked with substance abuse. Seeking addiction recovery should not be something of an embarrassment. Instead, it’s a positive and strong step in the recovery process. Here are some signs that will show when addiction recovery has become crucial. 

  • Absences from work
  • Withdrawal from non-using friends, family, and society in general
  • Increased hostility, negativity, and depressive symptoms
  • Bad hygiene
  • Disinterest in eating
  • Hostility when asked questions about health and life
  • Denial when it is suggested they may have an addiction

 

Addiction Recovery Therapies

Addiction recovery centers usually conduct recovery therapies in groups or as individuals.  It consists of a combination of activities, both medical and psychological. 

Psychological Addiction Recovery Therapies

Psychology trains the mind to be strong and independent of substance abuse. This is highly effective but incomplete without medical assistance. Here are the following psychological recovery therapies that are administered in addiction recovery centers. 

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of substance abuse. People who undergo this psychological treatment strengthen their decision making and mental process. The training is focused on helping patients take control of their emotions and how they react to adverse situations. Addiction is a by-product of depression and anxiety, and people resort to substance abuse to release pleasure hormones. CBT practice helps the brain fix its reward system and return back to normal. 

  • Contingency Management

Contingency management trains the brains’ reward system in a physical environment. The patients receive points for staying away from drugs. These points can be utilized for buying things that promote healthy living. Contingency management is highly effective against alcohol and drug addictions. 

  • Motivational Interviewing

Fighting drug addiction requires more than just pills. It requires sheer motivation and will power to overcome this heinous activity. Motivational training builds the response system of the brain and strengthens the willpower to keep the patient enticed for a sober life.