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Addiction and Rehab

Understanding addiction and concepts of a private rehab.

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease affecting the brain’s reward, motivation, and related systems. People struggling with addiction are unable to control their actions or make rational decisions about their behaviour, even in the face of negative consequences.

The Addiction Tree:
Addiction starts from the roots of life, similar to the roots of the tree. If the roots come from seeds of shame and feelings of incapacity they will grow into similar deficiencies

The roots of addiction are shame and faulty core beliefs about ourselves and our worth. Our pain, resentments, fear, hurt, selfishness and dishonesty. 

The addiction is fed with the shortcomings of the character. The addicted person is able to ‘chop off’ the ‘branches’ for a period of time, sometimes may be even for a while, but unfortunately if the trunk of tree is not chopped off, while destroying and killing the roots, the tree will shoot and soon leaves will appear along with the branches in a matter of time.

Most of the time, it appears that people prefer to focus more on the ‘branches’ as that represents the ‘addictive’ behaviour (whether it is drugs, alcohol, gambling or any other kind of compulsive disorder). Now we realize that these are only the symptoms of the addiction and not the root of this disease.

Appreciating the ‘addiction tree’ concept has helped much from a treatment perspective. It only makes more sense now as to why is it that people sometimes are able to stop their addiction for a while but are unable to stay addiction free for long. The root of the addiction, which is the underlying shame, guilt and other forms of unhealthy core beliefs, need to be addressed. Merely chopping of the “branches” and thinking the addiction is treated, which is what people generally seem to do, will not solve the problem. People need healing, and it should start at the roots.
The Addiction Tree

Kinds of Addictions

Generally we hear more about drug addiction as compared to any other form of addiction. The term drugs seem to be more commonly referred to as illegal or controlled items, but prescribed medication are also considered as drugs and some of them are addictive as well. Drugs include opiates (heroine, painkillers), benzodiazepines (clonazepam), alcohol, nicotine and caffeine (some people need that morning coffee in order to better function).
Gambling is another form of addiction as it is a highly thrill seeking activity. There is a ‘high’ and a ‘rush’ experience when someone is on a winning streak then there is the ‘high’ when chasing the loses one experiences while loosing. Both experiences, winning or loosing, activates the pleasure circuitry in the brain and there is a gush of dopamine causing the rewards system to fire up. Similar to any other addiction, once it takes over, or as we say hijacks the brain, cognitions are distorted and people become irrational.
Sex addiction is another form of impulse control disorder where people are actually addicted to the physical aspects of actually having sex. They seem to be addicted to the feeling experienced as a “high” especially before, during and after the orgasm. Sex addiction leads to other problems as well such as STDs, unwanted pregnancies, relationship complications etc.
Another form of impulse control disorder, food addicts seem to just need to eat, binge eat or starve. Similar to other form of addictions, once the brain is hijacked by the addiction and cognitions are no longer rational, these individuals who are addicted to eating, loose their perception of reality. Very often they are unable to see the extent of damage the eating disorder has caused their body and there are cases of people actually dieing from an eating disorder.
Emotions, particularly love, seem to have a similar impact on the reward system once it is repeated often enough. Love addiction, explained as addiction to emotional intimacy does affect some groups of people. The high experienced while being in love becomes a need after a while and they constantly look for means to be in love similar to how substance addicts search for their drug of choice.
Drugs or behaviors which are addictive, become a need for some people once they have tried them repeatedly. They provide a shortcut to brains rewards circuitry simply by flooding the nucleus accumbens with the dopamine whenever the behavour or drug is used. Memories of this high and sensational experience of satisfaction is recorded in the hippocampus. At the same time, the amygdala creates a conditioned response to the certain stimuli.

Why does this happen?

Brain Reward System
The brain has a unique way of making people feel rewarded and pleasurable. A certain part of the brain, below the cerebral cortex, in the nucleus accumbens, manages and releases a specific neurotransmitter known as dopamine. This distinct and specific process takes place whenever there is a form of excitement or pleasure initiated. Neuroscientists named this part of the brain as the pleasure center as a result of this.

The brain stores and registers all processes, which initiate and cause this excitement immaterial if it’s a result of drug use, sex, any intrinsic or extrinsic form of a reward or even just a result of a hearty meal. This leads to almost a distinct signature in the reward system and the faster the dopamine is released as a result of the triggering activity, the intensity of the release as well as reliability of the release increases the chances of one repeating the activity. We now know that abusing drugs actually lead to an intense release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. Thus increasing the likelihood of wanting or desiring the intense rewarding experience more and more.

Addictive drugs provide a shortcut to the brain’s reward system by flooding the nucleus accumbens with dopamine. The hippocampus lays down memories of this rapid sense of satisfaction, and the amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli.

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