Understanding the complexity of addiction is crucial for both addicts and their families in the journey towards recovery. Often, the mindset is, “I can do it on my own,” but in reality, the power of addiction is frequently underestimated. Willpower is undoubtedly essential, but knowledge about the challenges faced is equally vital. Addiction is a formidable enemy, and having an incorrect estimation of the effort needed to overcome it can be fatal. In this article, we will explore the hidden physical barriers that contribute to the cycle of addiction, emphasize the importance of intervention, and discuss how an individual’s inherent knowledge of their wrongdoing adds to their downward mental spiral.
THE CYCLE OF ADDICTION: WHY ADDICTS STRUGGLE TO STOP USING DRUGS OR ALCOHOL
Cravings fuel addiction, creating a barrier to recovery. Physiological and psychological symptoms arise due to the unnatural changes induced in the brain and body by drug and alcohol use. These substances alter normal bodily functions, such as hormonal regulation, leading to severe nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances. These imbalances can cause mood changes and various other physical and mental problems.
Drug toxins remain in the body long after an individual has stopped using, contributing to withdrawal symptoms and the potential for relapse after rehab due to flashbacks or re-experiencing the effects of the drugs. These factors are just some of the reasons why the cycle of addiction persists and why addicts struggle to stop using without intervention and rehab treatment, even when they desperately want to change.
THE ROLE OF CRAVINGS IN ADDICTION
Drugs and alcohol negatively affect the hormonal system and essential brain functions. For example, alcohol can cause aggression or irrational emotions, impaired judgment, and reduced motor skills. Substance abuse can also lead to erratic behavior, which may appear to be a mental health issue but is actually caused by drug toxins creating hormonal instability and altering brain function.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that “the defining features of drug intoxication and addiction can be traced to disruptions in neuron-to-neuron signaling.” These substances disrupt communication within the brain and throughout the body, leading to substance-induced psychosis. Repairing these systems after abstaining from drugs or alcohol can take several weeks or even months and requires a personalized nutritional program to correct hormonal imbalances.
IMPACT OF DRUGS ON THE HORMONAL SYSTEM
The hormonal system, or endocrine system, is the body’s communication network, consisting of specialized glands that release hormones into the blood. These chemical messengers travel throughout the body, signaling it to act in specific ways. Hormones control various physiological functions and have psychological effects, such as:
- Bone and muscle health
- Heart function and blood pressure
- Sexual development and reproduction
- Growth and development
- Immune system regulation
- Sleep cycles
- Appetite and body weight
- Attention, learning, and memory
- Stress response
Drugs and alcohol interfere with hormone release, causing hormonal imbalances that disrupt normal body functions. For example, alcohol increases blood sugar, disrupts nutrient absorption, and lowers testosterone levels in men and boys. Opioids can cause libido loss, increased osteoporosis risk, and irregular menstrual cycles. These substances ultimately change a person’s behavior.
NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES AND ADDICTION
Drug abuse can lead to nutritional deficiencies, exacerbating hormonal imbalances. Most drugs cause vitamin deficiencies, impairing the immune system and reducing energy levels, among other symptoms. Psychologically, an individual under the influence may feel better, but the extreme lows and withdrawal symptoms reinforce drug use as the mind and body are tricked into believing the substances are necessary for normal functioning.
THE ROLE OF DRUG TOXINS IN THE BODY
Drug toxins can remain in fat cells long after an individual has stopped using. The liver and kidneys detoxify the blood by converting fat-bonding drug particles into water-soluble particles, which are then excreted through urine and the intestines. However, not all toxins are processed, leading to a buildup in fatty tissue, resulting in more cravings, further nutritional deficiencies, withdrawal symptoms, and hormonal imbalances.
As a result, an individual may have been drug-free for weeks or even months, only to relapse quickly. When the body requires energy, it accesses fat stores, which can release drug toxins back into the bloodstream. For example, a study examining exercise and THC concentration in regular cannabis users suggested that exercise might increase blood THC levels by releasing dormant THC from fat stores.
COMPREHENDING THE COMPLEXITY OF ADDICTION
This information aims to help families understand why their loved ones cannot overcome addiction on their own. It explains cravings and the uncontrollable desire to continue substance abuse, even after life-changing or potentially life-threatening events. It also highlights the importance of distinguishing drug-seeking behavior from mental health problems and emphasizes the need to address the physical effects of substance abuse through proper detox, withdrawal management, and nutrition before counseling and therapy. Lastly, it clarifies that even if an individual appears to have stopped using drugs independently, relapse is still a significant risk.
BREAKING THE CYCLE OF ADDICTION THROUGH INTERVENTION
Professional interventions are one of the few effective methods for breaking the self-sustaining cycle of addiction. Trained interventionists understand the challenges faced by addicts and the effects of drugs and alcohol. Although each family’s situation is unique, intervention professionals generally encounter predictable behaviors and can implement a customized process to help the addict based on the specific drugs used and circumstances involved.
During intervention planning, professionals help family members understand the complexities of addiction, equipping them to better persuade their loved one to accept help. Drug and alcohol interventions not only assist in getting addicts into treatment but also enable families to establish boundaries that the individual will respect upon completing rehab.
In conclusion, understanding the hidden physical barriers contributing to addiction and the importance of intervention is crucial in the journey towards recovery. By addressing these barriers and seeking professional help, addicts and their families can break the cycle of addiction and work towards a healthier, drug-free future.