Understanding Substance Abuse

At Tuesday’s free seminar kick-off (!!) we discussed the disease model of substance abuse, what this means physiologically for someone in withdrawal, how it impacts the addict or alcoholic in the form of the shame cycle (leading to relapse!), and especially, how to create solution and lasting treatment that works.

It wasn’t until 2011 that a press release was issued from the American Society of Addiction Medicine stating “that addiction is a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavioral problem involving too much alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex.”

We now know that deep in the mid-brain our survival needs (FOOD! SEX! EXCRETE!  SLEEP!) are wired, AND also from here neurons called dopamines are released when we experience pleasure.

Drugs like alcohol and opioids, among others, surge those dopamine neurons!  The short version of the longterm–your survival brain becomes wired to need your drug of choice as a priority for survival.  Literally, the neurological line in your brain’s sand is when your pleasure transmitters become chemically confused and begin to believe they need that pleasure spike not just to live but to survive.

Because we didn’t even understand the chemistry behind this enough to call it a brain disorder until five years ago, there exists today a serious stigma around addiction because people believe it still to be a mere behavior or will problem.  For more information between the difference, go here and learn more from Dr. Kevin McCauley.

What that stigma especially seems to mean for an addict is knowing firsthand the darkness of the shame cycle. When we haven’t drank or used in weeks but can’t shake that awful creeping gnarling that tells us we’re no good so why bother.

Or,  when we wake up so horrified by our behavior last night that we remedy it by getting messed up all over again, because lets face it, I guess I really do suck if I can’t stay clean…The shame cycle is so emotionally real, and breaking its stories and associated beliefs takes committed practice!

How to begin?  My favorite definition of mindfulness?  RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.  Radical acceptance of the here and now, which literally means of who I am right this second: starting with how I feel.

Honesty about who we are, and learning how to be emotionally present and accountable to ourselves creates lasting change.

Change

Takes

Time.

Learning to name and tend your needs is how to stop abandoning and hurting yourself.  If you have a problem staying sober or clean there is help.

Your body can heal and grow, as can your mind, and spirit, your soul.

Click here to download the Understanding Substance Abuse notes.  dfs-understanding-substance-abuse

Join us again on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, at the Ocean Pines Community Center, from 6-8pm to learn more, and promote solution and change.

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