Addiction and the Brain

How can he be so selfish? He can clearly see how much pain he’s causing – why doesn’t he care? I can’t take the stress any longer. He’s destroying all of our dreams. Our lives have become Hell. Isn’t he tired of living this way?

These are the typical thoughts that run through your mind when you love an addict. You can’t understand why he continues on such a destructive path. Why does he make so many bad choices? Why does he cause so much pain to his family and loved ones?

You get so angry because he obviously doesn’t care. You blame him for being weak. But this isn’t because he doesn’t care, and it’s not because he is weak – he is sick with the disease of addiction. all of the blame, guilt, and arguing in the world won’t change it. He needs help.

You expect him to ask for that help eventually. To seek it out once he hits “rock bottom”. You believe if you keep pointing out his mistakes, reminding him of his failures, and laying on the guilt, he will snap out of it and come to his senses. Unfortunately, for many addicts, it takes a tragic turn before they will reach out for help on their own. And, sometimes, not even then.

What science is now understanding, thanks to the technology of brain imaging, is that addiction is a brain disease. Addiction hi-jacks the brain, so that the addict’s brain no longer functions normally. Due to the changes in the brain caused by drugs and/or alcohol, the addicted brain believes it needs the drugs for survival (even over food). This is why the addict continues to drink or use drugs even in the face of devastating consequences.

In order for positive changes to take place, the family needs to understand addiction. The first step to helping your loved one is gaining knowledge. It’s difficult to help another person if you don’t understand the problem. By learning as much about addiction as possible, families can help their loved ones to recovery.

There are many myths surrounding addiction. Here are five of the common myths:

Myth #1 – Addicts are bad, immoral, or degenerate.

The truth – Evolving research is demonstrating that addicts have a brain disease. The person suffering with addiction will often times do things that society considers bad, immoral, or degenerate in order to feed the addiction.

Myth #2 – The addict lacks willpower.

The truth – this is an old belief. Addiction negatively affects the area of the brain called the dopamine system which in not under conscious control.

Myth #3 – Addicts should be punished, not treated.

The truth – The brain disease of addiction causes impaired control over the addicts use of drugs. Addicts need treatment.

Myth #4 – Addicts can not be treated with medication.

The truth – New medicines are being developed to help patients curb their cravings. These medications reduce the chances of relapse.

Myth #5 – Addicts need to hit bottom before they are ready for help.

The truth – The sooner an addict gets into treatment the better.

Addiction is a treatable disease, but it must be faced head on. You don’t have the power to take addiction away from your loved one, but you do have the power to give him a good push toward help. You can get educated on addiction, talk to doctors, and find a good treatment program.

Don’t forget the importance of building your own mental and spiritual strength. There are many support systems available to help you along the way; family recovery groups such as Al-Anon, your church, a counselor, trusted friends, and the list goes on and on. You don’t have to face this alone – help is out there if you’re willing to accept it.

There is a stigma attached to addiction, especially when it involves illegal drugs. Because of this stigma, many families have a difficult time reaching out for help. Feelings of shame, embarrassment, and failure are common in the addict household. But it’s time for families to let go of this shame. Addiction is a treatable disease.

Internet Addiction Help – Is Internet Addiction Caused By Other Underlying Disorders?

There is ongoing debate among psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, and physicians about whether “Internet Addiction Disorder” should be considered a diagnosable mental health problem.

Organizations like the American Medical Association have, to date, rejected proposals to classify internet addiction as a mental disorder. This decision was largely based on insufficient research and scientific consensus on the addictive nature of the internet and certain online games.

Because it is not yet an officially recognized disorder, Internet Addition has found itself suffering from a bit of an identity crisis – sometimes being referred to as “excessive”, “problematic”, or “unhealthy” computer use. The use of these terms obviously places the emphasis on the harmful behavior rather than diagnosing the individual him/herself as addicted.

Internet Addiction: A “Catch-All” Term

Further complicating the issue is the fact that the term internet addiction is somewhat of a catch-all label for problems associated with excessive use of computers or technology. For example, the term has been use to describe compulsive online gambling, pornography use, texting, chatting, social networking, web surfing, online shopping, and video gaming.

The Symptom of an Underlying Problem or the Cause?

Numerous theories have been proposed to help explain why certain individuals become addicted to the internet and why certain online activities may be more likely to encourage unhealthy patterns of use. For example, it has been suggested that some people may turn to the internet to avoid feelings of depression, loneliness, shyness, and anxiety. This of course assumes that online addiction is a symptom of an underlying problem rather than a problem in and of itself.

Others argue just the opposite – that internet and computer addiction can bring on mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

Because online addiction is such a new problem and not yet well understood by mental health professionals (at least compared to other issues such as depression and anxiety), individuals seeking help for internet and computer addiction may encounter doctors, therapists, and psychologists who adopt one of the polarized views above.

For example, consider someone struggling with both depression and online addiction – something that is actually quite common.

One therapist may conclude that the depressed mood is clearly the primary issue and that the excessive internet use is “obviously just a symptom of depression and the person’s way of distracting himself from underlying negative feelings.” Another therapist may conclude that internet addiction is clearly the primary issue and that the depression is “obviously just the natural consequence of spending so much time online disconnected from the real world.”

Depending on the presenting problems, both of these approaches may be a disservice to the client.

A More Complex Relationship Between Internet Addiction and Mental Health Problems

As is often the case with issues like this one, the true relationship between internet addiction and other disorders may be more complex than either of these two extremes:\

  • Other psychological disorders can (certainly) exist independently of internet addiction
  • Other psychological disorders can (very likely) be the underling cause of excessive online use
  • Internet addiction can (quite likely) exist independently of other psychological disorders
  • Internet addiction can (very possibly) increase the likelihood of developing other psychological disorders
  • And finally, both internet addiction and other psychological disorders can (almost certainly) exist simultaneously with one feeding off the other and as a consequence, maintaining or intensifying the symptoms of both

Choosing an Alcohol Rehab Center for a Loved One

Choosing an alcohol rehabilitation center for a loved one doesn’t have to be a daunting task. If you are making this important decision, it is imperative that you do your research in order to find the best facility possible, ensuring they have a speedy recovery and minimizing their chance of relapse in the future. Here are some tips on what to look for when choosing the alcohol rehab for a friend or family member.

1. Do your research

Comprise a list of all the alcohol rehab centers in your local area. You can find this information on the internet, and you may want to use a comparison website which will detail and list a number of different facilities by different criteria, for example distance to the center or price. Decide which rehab center offers the best program, improving the chances of your loved one staying sober. You could even contact a representative or counselor from the facility and ask them what the age and gender of their average patient is, and the percentage of patients who finish the program successfully. Remember that your loved one will recover quickly if they feel accepted in the rehab center, and it is therefore imperative to choose the right facility based on their personal circumstances.

2. Ask the important questions

When you contact alcohol rehabs, you will need to find out the qualifications and training of the staff employed there. Don’t be afraid to ask how many patients have relapsed since completing the program, or if any violence has occurred in the treatment center. This is important information which will enable you to ascertain whether the center is right for your loved one. You will also need to find out what type of treatment the center incorporates into their program. Find out if group therapy, one-to-one therapy, or counselling is used. Several rehab centers base their programs on spiritual principles, whilst others adopt a strictly medical approach. Tell a representative or counselor from the center the situation of your loved one and what type of treatment they would receive if they enter the program. A rehab center should be honest in their plans, and should at least be able to provide you with the typical treatment that they offer.

3. Sort out financial arrangements

Choosing a rehab center may also depend on your budget. Look into any government grants or private funds which may be able to cover the cost of treatment for your loved one. You may also need to contact your insurance company to find out what is covered on your medical policy. Some rehab centers are much more expensive than others, and you may have an unexpected large bill at the end of a program if you don’t inquire about the costs beforehand. You may also be able to apply for financial aid in order to help you with the cost of the treatment.