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Breaking Up with Drugs and Alcohol

Addiction is an unhealthy relationship. The way that drugs interact with the brain mirrors those of love and attachment. Like any long-term relationship, when we finally end it there will be a process of grieving. After all, our relationship with drugs was often stronger than any relationship we’ve ever had.

Addiction mirrors feelings of love and attraction, and vice versa. Drug use causes spikes in dopamine, the “feel good” chemicals in the brain. According to Katherine Wu, in a 2017 Harvard University Science in the News article entitled Love, Actually: The Science Behind Lust, Attraction, and Companionship, “Dopamine, for instance, is the hormone responsible for the vast majority of the brain’s reward pathway – and that means controlling both the good and the bad. We experience surges of dopamine for our virtues and our vices. In fact, the dopamine pathway is particularly well studied when it comes to addiction. The same regions that light up when we’re feeling attraction light up when drug addicts take cocaine and when we binge eat sweets.”

The feelings we have for someone we love work on the brain in the same manner as addiction. Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, in a 2015 Psychology Today article entitled Ending Relationship Addiction, explains, “Thus, as in the case of addictions, our brains crave the familiar and the security that it provides. Studies of the brain show that addictions to processes (gambling, sex, and even unhealthy relationship dynamics) affect our brains the same as addictions to alcohol or drugs. We go from enjoying the pleasure associated with the activity to learning to associate the activity with pleasure to craving the activity and being motivated to seek it out with fervor. So if chaos is what our brain knows, it will be what it seeks out.”

Just as one can allow their feelings to keep them in a bad relationship, the brain can act in the same manner in regards to drug addiction. Wu further explains, “In a way, attraction is much like an addiction to another human being. Similarly, the same brain regions light up when we become addicted to material goods as when we become emotionally dependent on our partners. And addicts going into withdrawal are not unlike love-struck people craving the company of someone they cannot see.” Just as we must recognize when we are in a bad relationship with another person, we must also recognize that our relationship with drugs is harmful to our well-being.

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction and alcoholism. You can make the decision to seek help now and begin building a brighter future. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings together behavioral health and addiction specialists, spiritual guides, and holistic experts to address the disease of addiction from every possible mental, physical, and spiritual angle. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431