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What Is Addiction And How It Affects My Brain? Part 2

Articles, Australia, International, Understanding Addiction

The human brain is extremely complex organ. And that is just from the physical aspect, psychologically its depths are infinite. Let us return to our overview of what is an addiction and take a deep dive into our brain and its dysfunctional relationship with drugs and alcohol.

Drug Withdrawal

While this also applies to various behavioral addictions such as addiction to sex or gambling, we will focus on various substance abuse and how its withdrawal affects an addict. Every drug or pleasurable activity has some type of withdrawal symptoms. They can be very subtle and barely noticeable or very obvious and violent.

Have you noticed how that first cup of coffee in the morning is the best thing in the world? It is not really, but for a person in withdrawal to receive their “hit” is the best thing that happened to them that day. Yes, even coffee creates addiction and knowing the scope of coffee enthusiasts across the globe I would venture a guess it is one of the most popular and widely accepted drugs in the world. That said, coffee is also one of the most harmless ones so it is accepted with good reason. Still, as always – everything in moderation. Now, let’s get back to serious substance abuse and the symptoms they bring.

Two sides of the same coin.

The first stage of withdrawal is called the Acute Stage and its length can vary depending on what substance is in question. Several weeks is the average time, though, and during this time the user experiences various unpleasant physical withdrawal symptoms, sensitivity to bright lights, increased aggression, nausea, headaches and in extreme cases even hallucinations, seizures, heart attack or stroke.

The second stage of withdrawal is called Post-Acute Stage, often referred to as Post-Acute Stage Syndrome as well. While there are fewer physically associated withdrawal symptoms, emotional type of symptoms surface with vengeance. These symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, depression, insomnia and inability to focus.

As the addict progresses through these stages of withdrawal during their rehabilitation course, it is important to understand that they can come in various combinations, in varying frequency and are never guaranteed and seldom predictable. These two stages can and will overlap each other and some physical symptoms may come back during the post-acute stage as well, most commonly tremors, shaking hands and increased blood pressure. Road to recovery is filled with ebbs and flows between a trinity of factors – the rehabilitation course, reactions, and counter-reactions of your own body and last, but definitely not least – your mind and its infinite facets of personality, experience, fears, and aspirations. Sudden and inexplicable urges can and will surface so it is paramount to be prepared for this inevitability. Slips, moments of weakness and full-blown relapse is always on the menu and are very important to resist for a successful and uninterrupted path to full sobriety and become an addict in recovery.

Learn to walk before you run.

The biggest struggle with recovery is by far the need to re-learn various basic skills, only without drugs this time. As an addict, your brain chemistry is drastically different when compared to non-addicts. This imbalance has very long lasting effects and is not broken easily. An addict is forced to learn such seemingly self-explanatory and basic life skills as social interaction, maintaining and adhering to a daily schedule and a structure in life, eating a healthy diet and taking care of your own body, personal hygiene and of course being master of your own financial independence. Mastering life skills like these are so important because they help you step out of rehab as a new person and one who is willing to fight tooth and nail for a better life for himself and his loved ones.

 

Everyone has the right to be sober and independent from harmful things. There is enough in our daily lives to worry about, addiction and the landslide of problems that follow it are utterly unnecessary for any normal functioning individual and do no good even to the dysfunctional ones. Whatever the case, never a better day to call it quits and seek professional help that will keep you safe from your addiction and yourself while you regain a foothold on your own life and begin as a new and better person.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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