Penny was just named teacher of the year at her school. Her two kids also attend the school, and they are on the honor-roll. Penny and Owen have been married for two decades, and they are active members of the community. This is the side of Penny that most people see, but what most people do not see is that Penny has been fighting an addiction. For several years now, Penny has been drinking more and more. Penny has also been hiding how much she drinks. A few times, she has tried to cut back, but her efforts have not been successful. Penny keeps telling herself, I won’t do this again. Next time will be different. However, the cure for addiction is not being stronger or having more will power. Addiction is a disease that disrupts how the brain functions. Effective treatment is available, and it often requires the supervision of a mental health professional. Through therapy, many people are learning how to fight addiction and reclaim their brain.
“In my family and in my community, I see people struggling with drug addiction, with poverty and the effects of generational poverty; I see people struggling with lack of access to healthcare.”
— Jesmyn Ward
Addiction is a disease that shows no prejudice. It strikes poor and rich, men and women, old and young in every race and religion. Twenty-one million Americans currently have an addiction. This disease can manifest in a variety of ways. Sometimes, addiction shows itself as a compulsive behavior—gambling, sex, Internet, video games, shopping, pornography, and more. Sometimes, addiction shows itself as abusing a substance—alcohol, prescription drugs, marijuana, cocaine, and more. However addiction is manifested on the surface of an individual’s life, the same phenomenon is happening below the surface: addiction is changing the way the brain functions. Addiction is a disease that can take people’s health, finances, relationships, and even their life. It is also a disease that has effective treatments. Skilled therapists understand what the addiction is and how to rewire a brain that has been addled with addiction.
The skilled therapists at Thriveworks San Francisco have helped many clients find the care and support and treatment they needed to heal from an addiction. Treatment is available.
Recognizing the Symptoms and Signs of Addiction
Addiction rewires the way that the brain functions so that impulses are strengthened and self-control mechanisms are bypassed. Mental health professionals sometimes characterize the changes as the three C’s of addiction: control, cravings, and consequences. Addiction takes over control through the use of cravings that must be satisfied, despite the negative consequences the behavior brings. What does that look like in real life? Here are a few symptoms of addiction:
- Failed Attempts to Quit: Most people who have an addiction do not want to be doing what they are doing. They often try to quit the substance abuse or stop the compulsive behavior, but they usually attempt to fight the addiction in the wrong way so these attempts often fail.
- Escalation: Addiction is a progressive disease. It does not stay static, but it escalates. The amount of substance used will increase. The time spend in a compulsive activity will increase. The addiction is never satisfied—it always demands more. It always escalates.
- Moodiness: Irritability, annoyance, and anger are often lurking just belong the surface in an addict’s life. They may rage when they cannot get a fix. They may explode when confronted with what the addiction is doing. They may have poor emotional coping skills and are left with few options for handling life’s stress. Whatever the case may be, moodiness and addiction often go hand-in-hand.
- Captivated Thoughts: As addiction escalates, it reorients an individual’s life so that the addiction is the center. Even when not actively participating in the addiction, the disease captures people’s thoughts. A video game addict may daydream about their strategy when they are not playing. An alcoholic may spend hours planning out their next drink. The addiction consumes people’s energy.
- Deceit: An addiction can rarely survive without lying. Addicts may lie to obtain their drug. They may lie to hide their addiction. They may lie to minimize the pain the addiction is causing. They may lie to avoid responsibility or consequences. Often, lying is one of the more painful consequences of addiction.
Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks San Francisco for Addiction Counseling
“A lot of people think that addiction is a choice. A lot of people think it’s a matter of will. That has not been my experience. I don’t find it to have anything to do with strength.” —Matthew Perry
If you recognized any of the signs of symptoms in your own life, it may be time to reach out for help. Like other serious illnesses, addiction often requires the supervision of a mental health professional for treatment. Addiction is not cured by being a stronger person—you already are a strong person. Addiction is cured by re-programming the brain. That often requires support groups, therapy, and/or medication. It is a difficult undertaking, but it is worth the effort. No one has to fight an addiction alone—the professionals at Thriveworks San Francisco are here to help. We have appointments for addiction available. When you call to schedule an appointment, know that you may be meeting with your counselor the following day. We accept many forms of insurance. We also offer weekend and evening sessions. Call today.