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It can be astonishingly difficult to admit that you’ve got a drug problem. Our lives can be burnt to the ground, in smoldering flames all around us, and yet we still can’t see it. The spectacular levels of denial and delusion surrounding drug abuse contribute mightily to the inability to get well. How can you recover from addiction if you don’t think you have it? If you’re unsure if you’ve got a problem or not, here are some typical signs of addiction [read more]
Most drugs affect the brain’s reward circuit by flooding it with the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Surges of dopamine reinforce the enjoyable but unhealthy activity, leading people to repeat the behavior again and again, even when returns are diminishing.
In nature, rewards usually come only with time and effort. Addictive drugs offer a shortcut, flooding the brain with dopamine and other feel-good chemicals. According to researchers at Harvard Medical School, addictive drugs can release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do, and they do it more quickly and more reliably. In the drug addict’s brain, pleasure receptors eventually become overwhelmed. Over time, the brain adapts and produces less dopamine, and drugs no longer deliver the pleasure they once did. Drug users have to take larger amounts obtain the same dopamine “high” because their brains have essentially re-wired themselves.
According to the most recent data set by SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) approximately 20.1 million Americans aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year. This includes 15.1 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 7.4 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder.
For most people, the first step in getting well is asking for help. Addiction is powerful, deadly, and hard to beat alone.
To stop cravings most people need to stop using entirely, and learn new strategies to prevent relapse and to live without from drugs.
Entering professional rehabilitation can offer support and safety while detoxing, and treating the addiction and it’s underlying causes. Twelve-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous offer support and tools for living, plus the experience of other recovered addicts that can offer guidance and comfort.
Addiction not only ravages the life of the drug user, but also touches the lives of almost everyone around them. The consequences can be devastating. If you are involved with someone whose drug use is troubling you and wondering how to help them, there are many resources that can offer both guidance and comfort. Be it a friend, spouse, partner or significant other, dealing with someone with a drug problem can have devastating effects on emotional well-being, personal relationships, professional life and sometimes even physical health. Not knowing how to help can be bewildering—seeking support is crucial both for your own sanity. People with experience are available to offer guidance on the most useful ways to help an addict.
Twelve-step programs designed for families and friends of alcoholics or addicts, such as the
Al-Anon Family Groups, or Nar-anoncan provide the support and tools needed to deal with the effects of addiction on important relationships, and are a great place to start. [read more]
Recovery Speakers is an online community that aims to offer support, resources, and information to those affected by alcoholism, drug addiction, and addiction in any other form it takes. We are home to the largest single online audio library of recovery talks—spanning some 70 years—and a wide range of 12-step fellowships, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, and others. We seek to give people a meeting when there are none, preserve the rich legacy and history of the 12 step fellowships, and support one another through the community created here. Welcome, and keep coming back.