The Science Behind Addictive Disorders and the Solution!
The topic of addiction is hotly debated and often much misunderstood.
There has been an unfortunate tendency in the past to dismiss addictive behaviour of any sort as a form of weakness. The view of some is that it originates from a lack of willpower or even a willful disregard for “moderation” or social codes.
This theory flies in the face of the fact that many people who become dependent on substances (or behaviours such as sex and gambling, for example) are in fact keeping a tight and strong grip on their life.
Addiction can happen to all sorts of people, from all walks of life, and many are high functioning, holding down jobs and a family life.
Sustaining and hiding addiction is often hard work. And it is never a choice.
So, what is addiction then? And how can it impact on such a diverse range of people with differing personalities and backgrounds?
<b>Addiction as an illness</b>
The science behind addiction lies primarily in our growing understanding of all mental health. And the acceptance that “mental illness” covers a vast range of conditions and symptoms.
There is increasing acknowledgement that many triggers and issues create problems in the human psyche – trauma, grief, social isolation and lack of self-worth, for example. The impact of these is invisible and often hidden by the sufferer.
In some people, these triggers and issues result in depression or anxiety. For other individuals, they lead to addiction to substances or the “buzz” and risk of gambling.
The scientific term for this form of chronic illness is “co-occurring neurological or psychological disorders”. It means a combination of mental and physical issues.
<b>Addiction as a self-perpetuating illness</b>
One of the unfortunate aspects of addiction to substances is that alcohol and drugs affect your metabolism and cognitive abilities. This, in turn, can add to the illness interfering with sleep, suppressing mood and draining energy. Addiction becomes self-perpetuating as the illness worsens.
It is hard to release yourself from the grip of addiction on your own when it is robbing you of clear thinking, emotional resilience and mental acuity. Not to mention likely impacting on your physical health and your behaviour patterns.
<b>From better understanding comes a solution</b>
What does this mean to the treatment of addictive disorders and the work of rehab clinics?
It involves rehab clinics getting to the root cause of addictive behaviour, rather than treating the symptoms (drinking and inappropriate drug use) in isolation.
Various therapies can be used to explore the psychological and social aspects of the illness that lead to the misuse of substances.
Rehab clinics can help individuals to find coping mechanisms and new techniques for overcoming the underlying problems. They can equip them with an understanding of the triggers and pressures that could cause a relapse too.
In this way, medical intervention and psycho-social support are interwoven to make rehab clinics far more effective.
Leaving a rehab clinic that understands the science of addiction provides the best possible chance of sustainable recovery. You leave with the skills and insights to not only resist alcohol and drugs but also to restore your health and wellbeing in other positive ways too.