This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Addiction is a complex interaction of brain chemicals, behavior, and social factors. We are all comprised of our physical, emotional and spiritual components, and recovery must happen in all those spheres. We fall into addictions because we are “medicating”- escaping pain of some type by using a chemical substance, food, sex, gaming, gambling, or anything that stimulates a brain response of dopamine excitement.
Physical addiction involves the dopamine cycle. Use of drugs, alcohol, or any substance or behavior can cause the brain to produce less dopamine in response to the artificial introduction by drugs, or addictive behaviors. Therefore, chronic use begins the insidious cycle of dopamine depletion. Less dopamine produced by the brain causes drug-seeking behavior in order to get the “high” that dopamine can give. I would always tell clients that it eventually “takes more and more of the drug to produce less and less effect”. This is also why, in early recovery, addicts suffer from depression. Their dopamine has been depleted to a large degree from the chronic substance use. It is a vicious cycle!
As I said in an earlier post, we tend to “medicate” with short-term fixes to feel good immediately. Anything that makes us feel good immediately also has addictive potential. So, the easy answer is not to get started in “medicating” to feel good right away. Yet, we all try to escape pain. It is a completely natural and reasonable human act. And we also recognize that the use and overuse of powerful pain medications has given rise to recent heroin epidemics.
It is also true that some brains are much more predisposed toward addiction. Some are blessed with low addiction potential- many are not.
The remedy is always hard work, discipline, the help of community, therapy, and spiritual guidance. All remedies must be employed in order to heal, because addiction can destroy all levels of human body and spirit. Recovery is hard because another of those laws that we live by dictates that when we borrow in the present, we must pay back with interest in the future.
There is a high cost to addiction. As the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, the inevitable results of untreated addiction are jail, death or institution.
However, there is hope!
I have seen many, many stories of recovery which are completely uplifting. One of the phrases that is used in recovery 12 Step programs is “One Day at a Time”. Sometimes, when people are celebrating anniversaries of sobriety at the church’s recovery service, the leader will say “How do we do it?” The response is a rousing “One Day at a Time!”
People working a good recovery program are among the emotionally healthiest and spiritually strongest people I have ever met. Indeed, recovery is one day at a time, and so is the decision for physical, emotional and spiritual health.
We all can decide for health every day. We do it one day at a time.
Prayer: Father, we lift up those struggling right now with addictions. We all can relate to broken areas in our life. Thank you for the daily healing you can give, Amen