Opioid addiction is more than just a lifestyle- it’s a chemical change in the body, much like diabetes or hypertension. Understanding this can change the way you think about your illness. It’s not that you are a bad person or weak, it’s certainly not something you asked for. Judging yourself in this manner blocks effective recovery because if you do not see yourself as worthy of health and happiness, the chances of long-term sobriety dip drastically.
Opioids work in the brain by attaching to receptors that activate the feeling of pleasure that occurs when answering the biological need to perform certain activities, like eating or having sex. The brain releases dopamine, a pleasure hormone and the brain associates that intense pleasure with the environment and circumstance conditioning itself to crave the same circumstances and feelings. In other words, the brain teaches itself that if you do this, then that will happen- it becomes a permanent record, and you find yourself seeking out those conditions.
Over time, the brain learns to function normally only when the drug is present. This is the feeling that people living with addiction often have, only feeling “right” when they are under the influence, and the high becomes the brain’s new normal.
The problem lies in that the more you drink or use, the more you need to drink or use. The pleasure receptors in the brain become less and less reactive to the drug, and you will find yourself taking more and more to achieve the same feeling. Sometimes, you reach a point in which you cannot get that feeling and your brain has become so unresponsive to alcohol or your drug of choice that you travel into dangerous areas, building a situation in which you risk overdose in your search to find the perfect high.
Breaking The Chains
Only people who develop a tolerance go through withdrawal, and tolerance is the first indicator of physical addiction or dependence.
Withdrawal is the biggest hurdle to recovery. It is distressing, to say the least. Opioids dampen the part of the brain that regulates wakefulness, breathing, and blood pressure. In response, that part of the brain releases more of a hormone called noradrenaline which creates a false sense of “normal.” Without the drug, however, the overproduction of noradrenaline causes withdrawal symptoms: jitteriness, anxiety and muscle cramps among them.
Becoming addicted is generally not a choice, but recovering is- you are capable of changing your life, and you can even change your brain. That is how powerful you are. At Fort Worth Recovery, we address the physical aspects of addiction along with behavioral, emotional and mental health factors. Call us at 817 382 2894 or contact us online today.