Understanding addiction and how it correlates to brain function has been a puzzle for doctors and researchers for decades. The Journal of Neuroscience recently reported findings that suggested there might be a cognitive difference between people who suffer from addiction. Research shows that they do not fully process long term consequences but exhibit more impulsivity in the brain, demonstrated by increased patterns of neural activity. This kind of thinking leads to the disruption and destruction of relationships between addicts and their family members and forces them into a pattern of isolation. Once they have isolated themselves, many users begin to develop a larger appetite for their substance of choice. The cycle of use and isolation in combination with these various neural patterns creates the fabric of addiction that many addicts struggle to break through.
At Legacy Freedom, our focus at our alcohol rehab center is on treating the whole person, not just the addiction. Utilizing our holistic approach, we integrate traditional talk therapy with non-traditional therapies like aromatherapy, sound therapy, equestrian therapy or adventure therapy. We believe in treating the whole person, body, mind, and spirit. Our professional staff is comprised of life coaches, dietitians, clinicians, and therapists. Whether you are ready to confront your addiction or concerned about your loved one, Legacy Freedom can help.
Focusing on addict's thinking, they all present the same type of addictive thinking patterns. Thought patterns are affected by the chemical changes in the brain and trigger the need to fulfill the desire of the substance no matter the consequences. The need is sometimes so great and hard to control that the addict loses sight of reality. It becomes their only focus, and this is where the danger comes in. Fighting the chemical imbalance in your brain is one of the reasons that overcoming addiction is so difficult for many people.
Examples of addictive thought patterns:
· Pleasure seeking is a priority in your daily life
· No desire to have social contact with other people
· High stress levels
· Fear of exposure
· Showcasing a victim mentality
· Impulsivity with delaying gratification
· Feeling unique and that the rules of the general population do not apply to you
It is common for an addict to violate the boundaries of people around them. They do not feel the need to respect their values or morals if they think it is keeping them from getting to their substance of choice. These patterns of addictive thinking are sustained by three underlying causes - denial, self-obsession, and irrational decision making. An addict might call a loved one in the middle of the night, pleading with them for help because they have decided to quit. By the time help arrives, the addict may be asking for money and acting erratically. Scattered and selfish behavior is typical for those who are addicted; they are unable to see how other people are affected by their actions.
Understanding that many addicts may exhibit the same type of personality traits is the key to understanding how addiction affects the individual's psyche. People often refer to it as an “addictive personality," but this is not an actual diagnosis. Addicts do, however, seem to have these personality traits in common.
· Inability to cope with stress- When you have a hard time dealing with the outside world, you might feel the need to depend on something you an use as a crutch to carry you through. Many people use alcohol and drugs as a way of coping with demanding jobs or even day to day lives.
· Low self-esteem – Feelings of inadequacy; depression; and shyness in front of others will cause many people to use substances as a way of gaining courage.
· Compulsive behavior – According to the National Institute of Health a compulsion is defined as "performing an act persistently and repetitively without it necessarily leading to an actual reward or pleasure." An addict will be in a compulsive pursuit of reward; they might not be able to voluntarily disengage from the activity causing harmful consequences for themselves.
· Impulsive behavior- This is one of the most common traits among addicts. Impulse is also what drives addiction; causing addicts to act quickly on an urge and not consider the consequences of their actions. Addicts thrive on instant gratification; this makes focusing on a long-term goal of sobriety tough for many.
· Grandiosity – Acting loud and being overbearing can be a way to disguise low self-esteem. Overspending or poor management of their money is typical.
· Lack of patience - Addicts can be easily irritated with situations, children, family members, spouses, coworkers. They are often confrontational.
· Denial – Most addicts suffer from denial because they do not live in reality. They do not see that they have a problem, nor that it is affecting anyone else.
· Isolation – Addiction is fueled by isolation and distrust from family members and other people in close contact with the addict.
Though many people may show signs of these personality traits, it does not mean that they are, or will ever become, addicts. You also must consider a person's behavior patterns. These behavior patterns include lying about activities and whereabouts, shifting blame from themselves to someone else, manipulating facts to make themselves look like the victim, or creating a crisis to divert attention from their behaviors.
Addicts lack the life skills needed to be successful. They have a hard time coping with day to day activities, and instead of using other therapeutic techniques, addicts turn to their substance of choice. When the addict uses, they can numb the underlying pain, sadness or anger that is causing them to self-medicate.
In the book “Addiction and Choice" edited by Nick Heather and Gabriel Segal, research conducted in neuroscience, psychology and clinical practices showed that the following are key identifiers of behavioral patterns associated with addiction:
1. Unsuccessful attempts to quit -Many addicts will try to stop multiple times. They might express the desire to stop, but never be able to follow through with it. They might be able to abstain from their addictions for a short period but long-term relapse is high.
2. Cue-triggered relapse- Experience with addictive substances sensitizes the user to environmental cues that subsequently trigger cravings, like the clinking of ice cubes. These triggers make returning to their old environment so hard for addicts.
3. Loss of control – Choosing to use, whether consciously or unconsciously, creates a feeling of guilt or shame which further feeds the need to use to escape the reality of what they have done.
4. Desire without pleasure – Often addicts will continue with their behaviors even though the substance itself is not pleasurable anymore.
5. Cross addiction – Many addicts will substitute one compulsion for another. Over time, many addicts will develop more than one addiction.
Legacy Freedom | Holistic Wilmington Alcohol Rehab Center
Legacy Freedom Treatment Center is Wilmington’s top choice for drug and alcohol addiction recovery. Our holistic approach to recovery is second to none. We offer real recovery from substance abuse and addiction through a variety of holistic and alternative treatment programs. There's no way to create a single plan that works for everyone. Call us today to speak with an admissions counselor about how our Wilmington alcohol rehab center can help you.