What I did this week: In addition to facilitating an addiction recovery class, I had the opportunity in another venue to lead a discussion about what addiction really is. Just about every family is impacted by addiction-whether it is chemical dependence or compulsive behavior. While keeping personal boundaries and not allowing the addict to run rough shod over a family, I do think it is important to have a keen understanding of what is actually happening. To put it simply, addiction hi-jacks the brain.
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.
Desire initiates the process, but learning sustains it.
The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Anyone who has struggled to overcome an addiction — or has tried to help someone else to do so — understands why.
Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences. While overcoming addiction is possible, the process is often long, slow, and complicated.
As long, slow and complicated as the process is, I know that it is possible-I know that there is spiritual, physical and emotional freedom from being “bound to” or “enslaved by” addictive behaviours and substances.