Nobody Ever Said When I Grow Up I Want To Be An Addict

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Nobody ever said when I grow up I want to be an addict.  SO how is it that people become so good at it?


brittany before after

Addiction is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.  It is really important to have people around who are not afraid to be honest with the addicted person.  When the people close to the addicted person do not help him or her look at the reality of the situation, they are really helpless to the disease.


before after michael


The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary. However, with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired; this impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction.

Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control.

Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction.




One of the brain areas still maturing during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that enables us to assess situations, make sound decisions, and keep our emotions and desires under control.

The fact that this critical part of an adolescent’s brain is still a work in progress puts them at increased risk for making poor decisions (such as trying drugs or continuing to take them).

Also, introducing drugs during this period of development may cause brain changes that have profound and long-lasting consequences.

before after mikali

Addictive drugs provide a shortcut to the brain’s reward system by flooding the nucleus accumbens with dopamine. The hippocampus lays down memories of this rapid sense of satisfaction, and the amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli. Stressors or something associated with substance use can trip the mental machinery of relapse.

before after

Changes in the reward system alone cannot explain why addiction persists. As Mark Twain said of his tobacco habit, quitting is easy; he had done it often. Many addicts go through long periods without taking the drug, but they risk relapse even after years of abstinence, when the dopamine reward circuit has had plenty of time to recuperate. They are victims of conditioned learning, which creates habitual responses.

Drug-induced changes in the links between brain cells establish associations between the drug experience and the circumstances in which it occurred. These implicit memories can be retrieved when addicts are exposed to any reminder of those circumstances — moods, situations, people, places, or the substance itself. A heroin addict may be in danger of relapse when she sees a hypodermic needle, an alcoholic when he passes a bar where he used to drink or when he meets a former drinking companion. Any addict may resume the habit on falling into a mood in which he used to turn to the drug. A single small dose of the drug itself is one of the most powerful reminders — “It’s the first drink that gets you drunk,” as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Internal or external stress is another cause of relapse. The nucleus accumbens sends signals to the amygdala and hippocampus, which register and consolidate memories that evoke strong feelings. When asked why they relapse, addicts may say, “My job was not going well,” or even, “The traffic was so heavy that day.” These answers suggest that they are hypersensitive to stress, either congenitally or as a result of past addiction. Levels of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), the brain chemical that regulates the stress hormone system, often rise in addicts just before a relapse, while the amygdala becomes more active. Mice bred without receptors for CRH are less susceptible to drug addiction.

In the last few years, research has suggested that addiction involves many of the same brain pathways that govern learning and memory. Addiction alters the strength of connections at the synapses (junctions) of nerve cells, especially those that use the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate. Underlying these changes are drug-induced activation and suppression of genes within nerve cells, another process scientists are beginning to explore.

How to Get Clean and Sober

  1. Detox Safely.
  2. Change – People, Places and Things.
  3. Find a Good Recovery Group (I recommend a 12 Step Recovery Group).  Go to meetings: 90 Meetings in 90 days.
  4. Make one of the meetings your home group.
  5. Find a Sponsor.
  6. Work the 12 Steps in order with your Sponsor.  Choose a sponsor of your same sex with at least 5 years clean time who has worked the steps all the way through at least once. (Preferable has been a sponsor before)
  7. Learn how to teach your brain to break cycles and think differently.
  8. Understand your triggers and decrease your stressors.
  9. Practice kindness towards yourself as well as others.
  10. Eat healthy.
  11. Exercise.
  12. Rest.
  13. Don’t be afraid of natural remedies for ailments and get educated about how to use them.
  14. Never forget your reason for quitting.

Contact us for more help or information.

you can do it

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