Recovery from addiction is hard. Nevertheless, the rewards of breaking free from addiction are worth the effort. In this article, we will discuss why addiction occurs and common obstacles that may slow or hinder a person’s recovery from addiction. You will also learn how you can start your journey to recovery if you are currently experiencing addiction issues.
What Causes Addiction?
There are a variety of factors that may contribute to addiction. A few factors that may increase a person’s risk of addiction include his or her medical history, family history, past experiences, environment, and mental health.
Most addictions involve some sort of psychoactive substance. These substances trigger the release of large amounts of dopamine in certain areas of the brain. Dopamine stimulates the brain’s reward center so it makes you feel good. Addiction occurs when sustained substance use increases the urge to take more of the substance to get the same rewarding effect.
Some of the most popular addictive substances include:
- Illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine
- Prescription medication
It is also important to note that there are certain addictive behaviors that may have a similar effect on the brain as the aforementioned addictive substances. Common addictive behaviors include gambling, watching pornography, and playing video games.
Now that we understand some of the factors that contribute to addiction, let us examine a few reasons people find it so hard to break free from a substance or behavior they are addicted to:
1. Addiction Damages The Brain
On of the main reasons addiction recovery is so difficult is that addiction damages the brain. Prolonged drug or alcohol use may interfere with the functioning of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher thought processes such as planning and decision-making. As a result, people with addiction find it more difficult to think clearly and maintain control of their life.
2. Withdrawal Symptoms Are Intense
People who are trying to break free from addiction often feel as if they cannot live without the substance they are taking. As the addiction becomes stronger, they may find themselves taking more of the substance just to feel normal. This is because the withdrawal symptoms associated with addiction can be extremely unpleasant. Quitting an addictive substance “cold turkey” may cause temporary disruptions in brain chemistry which may lead to physical and mental health issues.
Common withdrawal symptoms of drug addiction include:
- Depressed mood
- Sleep issues
- Suicidal thoughts
Many people who want to break free of their addiction recognize that their habit has a negative effect on them. But after abstaining for a while, they may feel compelled to take the addictive substance again to lighten their depressed mood and avoid the intense withdrawal symptoms. However, taking the substance again may make them feel even worse about their addiction. This creates a cycle of relapse that is very hard to break without professional help.
3. Temptation Is Everywhere
It can be hard to resist temptation when you are recovering from addiction. Even the smallest things may lead someone back into their old destructive patterns of behavior if they aren’t careful. People recovering from addiction often have a really difficult time remaining sober as emotional or behavioral triggers may be all around them. This is true even for places or environments that may seem completely safe such as the addicted individual’s home or workplace.
People who are trying to break an addiction know better than anyone else how dangerous temptation can be. As such they need to remain vigilant. This involves avoiding people and places that may trigger the urge to start taking the addictive substance again.
4. Recovery Is A Long Process
Addiction causes significant changes in the brain recovery so recovery is often a long process. After long term drug or alcohol abuse, it may take months or even years for the brain to go back to a healthy state. During this time, the affected individual will have ups and downs. He may feel okay one minute and spiraling out of control the next. However, it’s important to recognize that this is normal.
Due to the amount of time and effort that has to be invested, some people with addiction issues may doubt that they can break free from their addiction. However, many people have reached that goal and gone on to live healthy, fulfilling lives.
5. Recovery Requires A Lot Of Support
Some individuals who are experiencing addiction may feel as if they are facing their issue alone. They may reason that they don’t want to bother other people by asking for help. However, the reality is that people who are trying to break free from addiction need a lot of support. Most people who recover from addiction successfully have worked with a therapist and a sponsor. They also open up to supportive family members and friends who can help them through the healing process day to day.