Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Nobody Wants to Be Addicted but Everyone Can Be Addicted

Addiction is defined as a chronic, progressive and relapsing disease of the brain. It is also characterized by attachment. How does it begin? “If I have no attachment, I lose my sense of belonging and therefore I lose my sense of identity”. This will result into a lost self which culminates in low self-esteem with a low mood. One will always live with a desire and longing for something to raise his or her low mood.

Chance knocks once. For instance, one day you take the first bottle of beer. You feel excited and a smile breaks on your face (your mood is raised). Some people exclaim, aha! This first excitement is what is termed as the initial high. It is registered in the brain because of the pleasure received due to the influence of dopamine (a hormone responsible for pleasure). The individual will always go for another bottle expecting to experience that very high. Unfortunately, the initial high is never regained even if one “sleeps with” the substance as some people do. In this case the individual will increase their intake from one bottle to as many as he can, looking for what he will never find, and this is what is termed as craving. Be aware that the body tissues are getting used to the substance and the cell structures are diminished because cells are working hard on the strange chemical introduced into the body which results into tissue dependence and tolerance. At this level, the person is already hooked by the substance and therefore there is no resistance to the substance. This whole process becomes chronic and progressive to the extent that even if one takes a week without taking the substance, he will relapse back to the substance and this is no longer a habit but a disease which needs treatment. 

“Addictives” can either be substances or non-substances but the process of addiction is the same and some common substances include marijuana, khat, tobacco, heroin, alcohol, valium, coffee, and non substances include sex, shopping and work. Of course the list is long. Addicts can be helped through motivational interviewing, the Twelve Steps or AA groups and self help groups. Denial is the biggest and commonest behavior of addicts in the process of counseling and once denial is broken, it leads to acceptance and recovery can take place.

Finally, There is no one who is exempt from falling into addiction, whether learned or not, poor or rich, religious or atheist and there is nobody who intends to be an addict. However, because people use substances that can react with their bodies differently, they find that they have become addicts.

Ariho Henry Moses