This is a loaded statement: How underdogs beat the odds of addiction. Firstly, it presents a few assumptions.
- That there are two kinds of addicted people, the underdog and the favored.
- That underdogs might not beat addiction.
- That there are odds to beat in addiction.
Assumptions 1, 2 and 3 are true. Once you know that and can accept it, the understanding of it all will be easier to get through. Here goes.
Accept the Physiology and Psychology of Addiction
Addiction begins in the brain. Some people are more predisposed to develop the disease than others, through familial history, genetics or traumatic socio-environmental factors (abuse, poverty, etc.). In the basic sense, addiction is there to be had by anyone who ignites it through chosen behaviors.
People are pleasure seekers. Whether it’s the consumption of sugar, food, alcohol, drugs, or the experience of sex, we make the decision to take it in. How the brain responds to it can vary per person but over time, the outcome is the same. The odds favor addiction. Here’s why.
Dopamine Deceives the Mind
The moment a person takes a shot of whiskey, for example, the brain responds by activating dopamine which is where feelings of pleasure come from. And yes, that feels good. So, guess what? The brain gets the message that if it felt good once, why not do it again? This is how addiction starts. We crave that feeling, subconsciously, consciously and at the cellular level, which is why it can be so difficult to quit.
Freewill Trumps Addictive Tendencies
If you have no precursors to develop drug or alcohol addiction, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. We are hard-wired for dopamine. But there are differences in how much dopamine we need to feel good. Sometimes our differences are biological and there may not be much you can do to change that. However, the other part of this has everything to do with the choice each of us makes to give in to pleasure seeking behaviors.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel good. It’s the decisions made on how we source feeling good that puts us at risk. This is the moment where addiction is nurtured or snuffed out. (Harsh but true.)
Everyone Is an Underdog But There’s Room for Victory
Beating the odds of drug or alcohol addiction is more challenging once the addiction exists. Follow a long-term treatment and recovery program to turn the odds for sobriety in your favor. But if somewhere along the way relapse is triggered, remember the fundamentals of addiction – the physiology and psychology behind it. You’re human after all. Although addiction is one of our greatest mountains to climb, it’s possible to overcome.
When Addiction Is a Family Affair
If you have a friend that is struggling with addiction of drugs or alcohol, there’s a 50 percent chance that there are other family members dealing with the same issue. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. genetics increases one’s risk for addiction. If this is you, there’s no reason to despair. Knowing your risk factors may help encourage you to be more cognizant of the signs of addiction, seek help, and instill healthy living practices in your family for future generations to come.
Prevention Helps Stop the Passing Down of the Disease
Unless you opt to keep your kids under a rock until they reach the age of 18, they will be exposed to drug and alcohol use. It could be something they see online, on television, at school or at home. Do you want them to learn about the subject from their peers or would you rather start, continue and own that conversation? Yeah, I thought so.
What if you, the parent, have a drug or alcohol addiction?
Family Therapy Might Be the Answer
Knowing that your child is experimenting with marijuana or downing drinks on Friday nights with friends might keep you up at night. But if you’re doing the same thing, daily, the mantra “Do as I say not as I do comes to mind.” To have the conversation about drug and alcohol abstinence is needed but how would the message be received coming from you?
This could be the golden opportunity to initiate a family intervention, even if it begins with counseling. You might think that it’s too late for you. It’s never too late. Many people view family as the continuation of heritage but also a way to create a legacy. What better legacy to leave behind that being that one family member who did what it took to stop the cycle of addiction?
Families Can Grow Stronger When They Embrace Sobriety Together
One of the most important facets of addiction treatment and the recovery process is having go-to support systems to get you through the rough spots, and celebrate the triumphs. Working through the psychological events that shaped the development and recurrence of substance abuse affect the individual and the family dynamic. There’s a reason why those in recovery will tell you that “addiction hurts families”. Addiction affects everyone it touches.
Lifelong addiction recovery takes teamwork and commitment to personal wellbeing and success. Call us today for more information on our programs and services.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 602-346-9142.