Addiction can impact your physical and emotional health, finances, and relationships. When you develop an addiction, it can cause you to make your substance of choice your main priority. Fortunately, addiction recovery is always possible. Life in recovery requires learning how to construct a healthy support network and learning how to cope with triggers and cravings.
Addiction is a chronic, progressive, and nondiscriminating disease. Anyone, regardless of age, race, or background, can develop a substance use disorder. One reason why addiction is difficult to recover from is that it is incurable. That means you must learn how to manage your symptoms throughout your lifetime to maintain sobriety. But don’t let this get in your way of living your best life.
How Addiction Works
Drugs and alcohol are neurotransmitter inhibitors that cause your brain to release more pleasurable neurotransmitters than it should. The rush of neurotransmitters causes your brain to connect your substance of choice with pleasure, which results in alterations to your pleasure and reward center. As addiction progresses, you begin to compulsively abuse your substance of choice, even if it causes negative consequences, such as financial problems or strained relationships.
Addiction can cause your brain and body to rely on your substance of choice. Your brain can become incapable of releasing neurotransmitters without your substance of choice. If you develop a physical addiction, you experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop using. Withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of your last use and can include:
- Nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea
- Aches and pains
Dealing with Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of your last use. Drug or alcohol detox can last for several days, although you can experience post-acute withdrawal. Although most withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, detoxing from alcohol and benzodiazepines can result in potentially fatal symptoms.
Completing a medically supervised detox program ensures that you remain safe and stable during early recovery. Staff can administer medications to alleviate your symptoms, which can make detox more comfortable. Since detox symptoms will be temporarily relieved if you use again, cravings can be intense during withdrawal.
Once you complete detox, treatment at Sunstone Recovery focuses on helping you learn how to manage and cope with your symptoms.
Life in Recovery
Because addiction is incurable, treatment is typically required to recover. Substance abuse treatment and therapies teach you about life in recovery, such as how to avoid triggers and unhealthy relationships. Triggers can be people, places, or things that intensify your cravings, which makes coping with them an important part of life in recovery.
Stressors, such as major life changes or conflict in your relationships, can increase cravings. Cravings can continue long after your last use, which is why learning about life in recovery is important. Life in recovery requires that you refrain from using all psychoactive substances. That means if you struggle with opiate addiction, you should not drink alcohol or use any addictive substances.
It can take time for your body and brain to heal from addiction. Your brain must re-learn how to properly release neurotransmitters, while your body must adjust to sobriety. Finding healthy hobbies and interests is another topic of substance abuse treatment, as life in recovery does not mean you can’t have fun.
Attending support groups, such as AA or SMART Recovery, can help you develop a sober network of friends. It is important to establish positive relationships during your life in recovery, as continuing to associate with substance users can jeopardize your sobriety.
Continuing Treatment for a Life in Recovery
When you develop a substance use disorder, you can feel trapped, frustrated, and hopeless. Regardless of what stage of addiction you are trapped in, a life in recovery is always possible.