A lot of people still are not very sympathetic to drug and alcohol addiction recovery, thinking that all it takes to get over it is a bit of willpower. Sorry, but it is not that simple.
People are addicted to a number of things, and probably the most common addictions outside of drugs and alcohol are food, sex, work, adrenaline, and so forth. However, there are things that most of us really do not consider addictions.
Addiction recovery could apply to emotions.
One of these is people. How often have we seen people jump into unhealthy relationships, knowing full well that those relationships will be toxic? There is no logic behind it, yet the person still cannot help himself or herself. It is harmful, can consume every aspect of a person’s life, and keeps them from achieving their long-term ambitions and aspirations. Sounds a lot like drug addiction, doesn’t it?
Part of the reason behind this is that we can become addicted to emotions. Whether we like to experience them or not, there is an appropriate emotion or emotions that fit with a given circumstance. We are designed to experience these emotions for a reason. If a loved one is seriously hurt, it is not healthy to immediately jump to happy—fear, sadness, and even anger (depending on the circumstances) are far more healthy responses to hearing this kind of news.
While some are incapable of feeling these emotions, others simply choose not to feel them, and opt instead to default to a different, less appropriate emotion. Ever hear of “rage-oholics”? Anger gives a sense of power, reduces fear, can increase adrenaline and manifest in other bio-chemical reactions. If you asked someone in drug addiction recovery what these descriptions apply to, some would surely say that it sounds like a cocaine high.
One could also say that people have an addiction to sunshine. Before you laugh, hear us out. A lack of sunshine has been proven to cause depression in some people. One of the believed causes of depression is lower levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Studies have shown that a lot of people suffering from addiction and in addiction recovery also suffer from depression, and naturally have a lack of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine or their respective receptors. By engaging in drug use, more of these chemicals are released, and momentary alleviation of depression kicks in.
That does not mean that going outside is an option for addiction recovery, but it does show that not having access to the necessary levels of naturally occurring chemicals in the body causes us to find ways of making up for those chemicals.
Really, at the most base level, we are addicted to stimulation. Especially in today’s world, we constantly have something happening around us, and many feel a sense of anxiety, unease, discomfort, fear, and lack of sleep if certain stimulations are not present. These are also reactions that take place in the beginning stages of drug and alcohol withdrawals.
Addicts and alcoholics are people who found a highly effective short-term solution to satiate their drives, and unfortunately, that short-term solution turned into a long-term solution. So, before looking down on an addict or alcoholic, remember that we should all be so lucky to have an addiction recovery program available to help us with our own addictions.