“I Can Quit Any Time I Like”
The Myth of Casual Drug Use
Very few individuals start out using drugs intending to become a drug addict.
Perhaps the user intends to try it just once. This may involve ‘borrowing’ a prescription Adderall from a friend to get through the work day after an all-nighter. Or maybe the drug use involves noticing prescription opioids in a relative’s medicine cabinet – and ‘borrowing’ a few pills. Because you never know when you may need one.
But then it turns out that drug produces a euphoric effect for the user. And in the following weeks and months – the drug of choice is used again; and again. Perhaps the individual decides at this point: it would be better to quit.
Addicted individuals ultimately decide: “I can quit any time I like! It’s just that I do not want to quit right now.”
“You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug, especially when it’s waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye,” gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
‘Cognition Hacking’ Among University Students and Working Professionals
Every drug user starts out as an occasional user. The initial use is a voluntary and controllable action.
However, as time passes and drug use continues – individuals go from being a voluntary user to a compulsive drug user. This change occurs over time.
The time span involved can be months, weeks or days. The addiction process is individual and situation dependent; there are many factors and variables involved.
Negative side effects usually do not occur immediately. Some individuals can stay on a regimen of chemical ‘performance enhancing’ drugs (such as Adderall and opioids) for a long time before noticing problems. These individuals often become functional addicts.
This pattern of use works right up until the time it no longer works – as the user is being carried out on a stretcher.
Use of Addictive Drugs Changes the Brain
The one fact regarding addictive drugs that remains constant:
Addictive drug use changes the brain.
Using addictive drugs floods the limbic brain with dopamine—taking it up to as much as five or 10 times the normal level. With these levels elevated, the user’s brain begins to associate the drug with an outsize neurochemical reward. Over time, by artificially raising the amount of dopamine our brains think is “normal,” the drugs create a need that only they can meet.
From Your Brain on Drugs: Dopamine and Addiction
The fact is, drug addiction is a brain disease. While every type of drug of abuse has its own individual “trigger” for affecting or transforming the brain, many of the results of the transformation are strikingly similar regardless of the addictive drug that is used — and of course in each instance the result is compulsive use. The brain changes range from fundamental and long-lasting changes in the biochemical makeup of the brain, to mood changes, to changes in memory processes and motor skills. And these changes have a tremendous impact on all aspects of a person’s behavior. In fact, in addiction the drug becomes the single most powerful motivator in the life of the drug user. He will do virtually anything for the drug.
This unexpected consequence of drug use is what I have come to call the oops phenomenon. Why oops? Because the harmful outcome is in no way intentional. Just as no one starts out to have lung cancer when they smoke, or no one starts out to have clogged arteries when they eat fried foods which in turn usually cause heart attacks, no one starts out to become a drug addict when they use drugs. But in each case, though no one meant to behave in a way that would lead to tragic health consequences, that is what happened just the same, because of the inexorable, and undetected, destructive biochemical processes at work.
Getting Help Before Addiction Destroys Careers and Relationships
Possibly the ultimate ‘brain hack’ or performance enhancer is: knowing when to stop.
If performance and cognitive enhancing substances are beginning to cause problems in your life – it is time to consider the possibility of dependency and addiction.
Whole Person Holistic Addiction Recovery
Long-term addiction recovery is dependent on discarding habitual behaviors and instead engaging in new sober activities.
Self Awareness means having the internal focus to be quietly aware of your own thoughts and impulses – without judgment or acting on the impulses. And then, choosing to do something different.
If you think you may be suffering from addiction, as well as PTSD, depression, trauma or other mental health issue – please know that seeking help is the first step to addiction recovery and regaining control of your life.
Alcohol and Drug Addiction Causes Serious Problems
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• Each patient is evaluated by New Start Recovery Solutions staff and receives a biopsychosocial assessment; and an individualized treatment plan.
• We use Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention and other whole person evidence-based therapies; including CBT, yoga, tai chi and more.
• If you or your loved one is located in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico, Paradise, Redding, Martinez or other northern California area – and are dealing with a drug abuse or an alcohol use disorder – welcome to evidence-based whole person addiction treatment at New Start Recovery Solutions.
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