Books have been written, and movies have been produced that tell true stories about the dangers of drug and alcohol addiction. While some of these stories have a pleasant ending, the path for an addiction sufferer to travel to find sobriety is always fraught with danger and despair.
Admittedly, the stories spend a lot of time discussing the physical damage done by addiction. From dependence through detox, there’s a lot of physical pain and discomfort that an addiction sufferer has to endure. The problem with substance abuse is it also affects the way addiction sufferers think and manage their emotions.
How can someone be experiencing pain if you can’t see it? It’s a good question with a reasonable answer. People experience all kinds of pain. The physical pain that can be seen is a person’s eyes and body. It’s the emotional and mental pain that seeks a hiding place somewhere under the surface. Out of sight, out of mind?
Moving forward, this discussion is going to focus on how addiction affects the brain and the steps an addiction sufferer needs to take to rewire brain function away from their addictive behaviors.
The Effects of Drugs/Alcohol on the Brain
Substance dependence goes well beyond how the body reacts to it. Physical dependence starts in the pleasure centers of the brain.
One of the most prominent reasons people abuse drugs and alcohol is to escape the realities of their lives. There is pain that needs handling, and substance abuse is the way some people decide to handle it.
Initially, the drugs an addiction sufferer takes in stimulates the pleasure centers of their brain, producing a euphoria that feels a lot better than the individual’s negative feelings. It only requires of few occurrences of this euphoria to increase an individual’s desire to keep using their drug of choice. Over time, both the physical body and brain grow to expect the drugs they now crave and need for proper functioning.
This is what experts refer to as full-blown drug/alcohol dependence. By simply throwing in a series of addictive behaviors, it isn’t long before an addiction will become evident. Once the addiction sufferer falls prey to their addiction, there is only one way back to sobriety.
While the internet is filled with self-help solutions for addiction, the reality is they seldom work. Why? Most self-help methods fail to address the underlying cause of the addiction sufferer’s need to self-medicate away their problems. Without addressing the underlying cause of the addiction to the sufferer’s addiction, the individual will not get a proper opportunity to rewire brain function. That’s a massive problem as it relates to a full and successful recovery from a drug/alcohol addiction.
Where does that leave the person who needs help with their addiction? The only reliable way someone is going to be able to arrest their addiction is by submitting themselves for treatment in a reputable rehab center.
The actual treatment process is going to depend on the severity of a client’s addiction and the circumstances surrounding their life. In most cases, it’s a good bet that a client will need to subject themselves to a medically monitored detox program. This option is beneficial if a client has a substantial addiction to a substance like heroin, meth, prescription painkillers, or alcohol.
To help you better understand the importance of going through a medically monitored detox program, you should take a close look at the following list of heroin withdrawal symptoms:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Severe cramping in the stomach area
- Muscle cramping and tremors throughout the extremities
- Difficulty breathing
- Drastic increase in heart rate and blood pressure
- Emotional problems like depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideology
- Nightmares and hallucinations that interfere with the ability to sleep
- Loss of the ability to concentrate and control body
After getting through detox, clients reach the point where it’s time for them to look seriously at what’s been driving their addictive behavior. All through the therapy process, clients will work with their therapists to get to the truth about the client’s addiction issues. This information will serve the basis for helping clients develop better-coping skills to protect themselves against potential relapses.
This is also where clients will learn the rewire brain process. Read on for more information about this.
The Rewire Brain Process
To survive a lifetime of sobriety with an addiction that’s looking for a chance to pounce, a recovering addiction sufferer must go through a rewire brain to process. This process is intended to reprogram the individual’s brain function, which should, in turn, help them change their behaviors.
In the initial stages of recovery, the addiction sufferer’s brain is still looking for the euphoric stimuli that will allow it to hide from reality. Until the client can rewire brain function as it relates to their addictive behavior, they will struggle with sobriety.
Here’s how the rewire brain process works. In the past, some form of negative stimuli would tell the individual it was time to take drugs to escape the reality that is coming. The rewire brain process is intended to teach the brain to react differently when it gets the very same stimuli.
As an example, let’s say depression makes addiction sufferer A want to drink a bottle of wine. The depression is the stimuli. What if the brain felt depression but reacted by telling the individual they needed to speak with a therapist? What if a rewire brain process could teach the brain to interpret the depression stimuli as something that’s not so unpleasant. With the proper rewire brain process, both of these things are possible. It’s just a matter of retraining the brain to think differently.
In recent years, the addiction treatment community has made significant inroads in the way the community treats addiction sufferers. Long gone is the addiction treatment community’s total reliance on traditional treatment techniques. They have replaced much of that with evidence-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectal Behavioral Therapy. In both of these cases, the treatment process seeks to perform the rewire brain process that needs to take place.
Starting with Cognitive Behavioral, this treatment method seeks to teach clients how their negative thoughts prompt them to use drugs or alcohol as a hiding place. Dialectal Behavioral Therapy does the same thing with a focus on the client’s feelings instead of thoughts.
In both cases, clients get the opportunity to learn the truth about their thoughts or feelings. Through repetition, they are then taught how to take their negative thoughts or feelings and turn them into something positive. The process of turning negative into positive should eventually relieve the client’s need to self-medicate their issues away.
If the client can sustain this for a long time, they will reach the point where the rewire brain process has taken hold. That should result in the client’s brain becoming a resource for fighting the individual’s triggers and any temptations that may come along.
Hopefully, you have found this information useful and enlightening. The point is there’s nothing permanent about your brain’s need to cling to the negative. There is always a way you can go through a rewire brain to process and retrain your brain to see things a little different. If you can embrace this concept as you seek addiction treatment, you will have a better chance of establishing a lasting recovery from your addiction.
To answer the titled question, the rewire rain process could take hold in a month. More likely, the process will take several months before the brain relearns the difference between acceptable and unacceptable reactions to negative stimuli.