Addiction is never a choice!

One of the reasons that Twin Rivers provides ‘individualised’ treatment is that all addictions may have similar traits and outcomes but the lifestyle and psychology attached to each addiction can vary widely. It is widely accepted these days that the primary driver and ‘gateway’ to drug abuse is not through other drugs but from pain caused by unresolved traumas!

People can become addicted to substances for a myriad of reasons. Unfortunately, in all cases, addiction does not come out of choice but out of desperation to relieve physical and emotional pain. Someone may start an addiction due to chronic, or acute pain due to a broken ankle for example, and others due to crippling anxiety or deep depression. One will take medications prescribed to aid in treating their conditions and after many years realize that they may develop a dependency on the prescribed medication and will manipulate themselves and others, such as doctors to continue taking the medication when in actual fact it is no longer needed!

Another example of someone starting in an addiction trajectory can be as innocent as an evening drink after an insane day at work or, in some cases at school and peer pressure to experiment with mood-altering substances.  The enjoyment of a glass of wine or a pint of beer becomes something that one’s body starts to expect. For some people, this one drink in the evening can become the beginning of a lethal cycle of increased alcohol intake and preoccupation with the next drink. One drink becomes two and two becomes three and so on, eventually, alcohol is not enough to ‘calm the mind’ and more intense drugs are introduced to increase the required effect.

Alcohol as a numbing agent

The reality is that it is easy for many to go to a liquor shop and get themselves a cheap bottle of spirits, or wine, and this is why alcohol is seen as such a common addiction because it is the most accessible and affordable.

Alcohol serves as a nervous system depressant, distorting and numbing reality. Alcohol affects brain structure, mainly in the area of memory. However it also changes the frontal lobes which control planning, organization, making decisions and regulating emotions. People who drink heavily also tend to suffer from anxiety and depression and begin to rely on alcohol to regulate their mood, this is a red flag when it comes to someone becoming addicted to the substance.

Cannabis addiction

Weed has similar effects to that of alcohol, it numbs body sensations, mentally and physically.  However, it affects a different system in the body.

Marijuana dependence occurs when one’s brain adapts to receiving large amounts of the drug, reducing the ability to produce enough of its own natural endocannabinoid neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the body that send signals between nerve cells. Endocannabinoids are naturally occurring neurotransmitter that helps with various vital bodily functions. With the brain unable to keep up with the natural production of this neurotransmitter, one needs to constantly consume more of the substance for the body to function.

Heroin addiction

Heroin is an extremely serious life-shortening addiction. People that follow its path go to extraordinary lengths to get the financial means to purchase the drug. In most cases, theft is carried out as a ‘normal’ part of the daily routine to get enough money needed to fund this lethal addiction.

Heroin is made from a combination of opium poppy and morphine.  It is a type of opiate and therefore it acts on the body’s opiate receptors in the brain. The body’s opioid system is mainly in charge of regulating and managing pain as well as creating a sense of euphoria. Heroin disrupts the way one’s body manages pain. The chemical makeup of heroin makes it highly addictive and can rapidly snowball, altering the opioid receptors in the body.

A heroin addict will never have the same rush as they experienced in their early days of heroin addiction causing the addict to need more and more of the substance in order to just stop feeling ‘sick’ let alone finding a ‘high’. This is what makes Heroin so insidious as it has the ability to hook an addict into continued daily use very quickly leading to a miserable existence and overdoses.

Rebecca Bourhill for Twin Rivers Rehab