The Illness of Addiction
Having an addiction to alcohol or another substance is complex and usually requires help from a team of professionals to overcome. As a recovered addict myself, I am still not able to fully comprehend and understand why my body and mind reacts differently than other people. When someone with substance use disorder puts any mind altering substance into their bodies, they tend to lose all control over the amount they use, the choice of when they will stop, and the security of knowing what is going to happen on this next “run.” We can talk about it, describe it, or relate past experiences to it but we can’t really put our finger on why we become so dishonest, selfish, and self centered almost instantly after using.
The disease model of addiction is a simpler way of breaking down the illness of addiction to get a better understanding of why your loved one behaves and acts the way they do. As an alcoholic/addict my body has developed an allergy or abnormal reaction to any mind altering substances. Upon consuming any drugs or alcohol my body breaks out in a physical compulsion also known as the phenomenon of craving (POC). This craving and allergic reaction is what causes people with substance use disorder to continue to use more and more of a substance with complete disregard to the dangers associated with it. Once I start I am unable to stop or moderate on my own will and usually require some form of detox or intensive treatment to intervene. This physical burden of my illness is progressive and can never be “fixed,” meaning I will never be able to safely use any mind altering substances.
The real problem of my illness centers in my mind. This is the most baffling and frightening part of addiction. If my physical addiction was the only problem I faced, then entering a detox program until I am no longer physically dependent on a substance would be the solution to all my problems. Unfortunately, this is not the case. My mind has a mental obsession or a persistent thought that does not respond to reason, logic, or willpower. I am unable to connect the dots of past experiences and negative consequences to realize that I am allergic to the substance that I am about to use, which is a direct result of my using. This is why a new job, higher paying salary, working extra hours, probation, the thought of going to jail, etc. is not enough to fix me or deter me from picking up again. This results in the endless cycles of relapses and institutions. If I could find a way to rid myself of the obsession to get high or drunk then my physical reaction would therefore become dormant and never be set in motion if I never put anything back into my body. Just how do I accomplish this?
Everyone is going to find the path of recovery that best suits them. What I have found most beneficial in my experience is different mindful exercises and practices such as yoga, meditation, hiking, deep breathing, reading books about spirituality, exercising, and making my overall health a priority. When someone is able to fully engage in a number of different treatment options and modalities suited to treat the mind, body, and spirit, we tend to see greater success with long term recovery. Our team at Woburn Wellness plans to offer an array of different treatment options and a true immersion program incorporating clinical expertise paired with 12 step centered practices to meet each individual on their own path to recovery!