Addictions are all around us. Every Starbucks you see is proof of how pervasive addictions are in our society! The truth is, your brain is hardwired to become addicted to things (it’s all in the dopamine cycle, a neurotransmitter that responds to rewards).
Unfortunately, the things our brains crave are never broccoli or spinach. It’s the more destructive substances like alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, or sugar that our brain craves so strongly it begins to warp. You might be thinking… wait, so if our brains are hardwired for addiction problems, and then addictions actually remold the brain, is there any hope for me?
Thriveworks Dover can answer with a resounding yes! Overcoming an addiction is hard, especially doing it alone. Many people with addictions have a predisposition through genetics that makes them even more susceptible to forming addictions. To add to the difficulty, addiction has been labeled as a chronic disease. It doesn’t just go away once we stop using drugs. But the Substance Abuse Counselors at Thriveworks Dover have years of experience and knowledge and are ready to use it all to guide and encourage you towards a life free from addiction.
What Are the Effects of Addiction?
Dopamine is a little chemical that carries messages in the brain (a neurotransmitter). In particular, it is responsive to rewards. The brain has a very sensitive system as to how much dopamine in releases in what situation. When drugs like alcohol or nicotine are introduced, they produce a surge in dopamine that the brain can’t handle all at once. It responds by decreasing its own dopamine production- the production it can control.
This is why you feel good when you take a drug- your reward center is lighting up!
The problem with addiction is the brain begins to anticipate these huge dopamine surges. It dramatically decreases its own production until you can’t feel good unless you have those drugs. Your brain holds the memory of the drug-produced high and anything that reminds it of the high will produce a craving.
Why does all this matter?
It means your addiction does not point towards a weakness or personal flaw. It means your brain is literally using drugs as a crutch because it forgot how to produce the feel-happy chemicals on its own.
And for even better news- the brain is incredibly resilient! Researchers coined the term neuroplasticity. Your brain can be molded by things like addictions, but it can also be molded back. It can heal and relearn healthy habits. That’s the ultimate goal of addictions counseling at Thriveworks Dover.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Seek Help?
Maybe it started as a way to relieve stress. You weren’t going to do it all the time, just on the nights work went late and traffic was bad. Or maybe, it’s just a way to connect with your social group. It makes the nights a little more fun, and you were never that great with big groups anyways. It’s just for fun, and it’s not every night!
Everyone has a different tolerance for how much and how often they can consume a drug before their brain gets addicted. A lot comes down to genetics- something you can’t control. So how can you tell when it’s gone too far?
It’s always safer to talk to a professional as soon as you start to have concerns. Addiction is easier to reverse earlier in the process. Some warning signs that signify a deeper problem could be going on include:
- Cravings for the drug/alcohol continue throughout day
- Use becomes regular and chronic
- Unsustainable or reckless spending patterns
- Averse physical reaction when you’re not using (headache, anxiety, inability to sleep or oversleeping, muscle aches)
- Changes in social patterns or groups
- Lying or being secretive
- Feeling dependent on the drug for happiness or control
- Mood changes
Symptoms and signs are different for everyone depending on their personal tolerances, how far the addiction has gone, and the drug they are using. Thriveworks Dover understands how terrifying a drug addiction can be and how desperate the situation can seem. We are here to be your partner as you work through addictions and will continue to walk with you until you are free.
What Does Addiction Counseling Look Like?
Thriveworks Dover knows that you are not just your addiction. You have other passions and goals, other problems and things you’re struggling with. All of this can go into your recovery from addiction. More often than not, there’s something else besides addiction going on. Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem—there’s a root problem that can be addressed.
Unfortunately, addressing that root problem will not be sufficient when fighting addiction. Now we have to fight to regain control of your brain. It can be a long, painful process. But millions have already succeeded, and with a Thriveworks Dover counselor cheering you on and providing professional support, it is fully possible. Thriveworks Dover Addiction counselors will work with you to create a personalized plan and then walk with you through that plan until you overcome your addiction. Each person is unique, and so will each counseling session!
Addiction can make it seem like your whole world is tied to this one drug. But it’s not- there is so much more to who you are and what you can do than be an addict. Thriveworks Dover is here for you when you are ready to begin this journey and gain back the freedom you deserve.