Years ago, people with addictions were seen as weak or morally corrupt. Today, we know that addiction has a biological and psychological basis. When certain areas of the brain are activated by the substance, a chemical called dopamine is produced. This creates a feeling of pleasure. This can prompt an impulse to seek out that pleasure again, which can create addiction to the substance. Understanding this is important if you want to break the dependence. Doing so is not as simple as just deciding to quit. Here are four methods of overcoming addiction.
Counseling can be an important component of addiction treatment. The counselor will explain how the patient’s brain chemistry is altered by the substance to the point of craving it. He will help develop ways to break this cycle depending on your history and specific struggles with addiction. Counseling will also address other psychological conditions many addicts face, such as anxiety or other mental illness. These factors greatly influence your predisposition to addictions, so it is important to uncover and address such issues if you wish to overcome your addictions.
Behavior therapy replaces your addictive behavior with healthier activities. It can help you identify the triggers that push you to use the substance and give you skills to handle stressful situations. Although addiction is centered in the brain, you need to take responsibility for changing your behavior if you want to overcome it. Therapy can help you do that. Studies have found that this kind of distraction is successful—if you are able to replace unhealthy passions for healthy ones, you are more likely to recover, and stay on a path of resisting a relapse.
Fighting an addiction can be a lonely and frustrating experience. It takes time to overcome the brain’s cravings. Sometimes engaging with other people who know what you are going through can be beneficial. This not only makes you realize you are not alone, but reporting to the group encourages you to keep on track. Many Addiction Treatment Centers use the method of group therapy to allow those with addictions to support one another and relate to each other—allowing them to break their habits and have a healthy recovery with supporters behind them.
Sometimes the addiction is so strong that your doctor may opt to use medication to ease the chemical dependence. For example, there are drugs that help ease patients off opiates. There are others to break the dependence on alcohol. Medication can help the brain get used to having less and less of the addictive substance until it reaches a point where it no longer craves the addiction, whatever it may be. Other medication helps ease physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms which can also make the recovery process a little easier, allowing your body to gradually heal and restore back to full health.
For many people, a combination of methods is most successful. Using both medication and behavior therapy is often the best choice, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The most important thing is to realize that addiction is centered in the brain. Addictive substances change the connections and neurotransmitters in the brain. Any treatment plan must help the patient break that cycle and heal the brain again.