If you've never struggled with an addiction, you may think that quitting something like smoking or drug use is as easy as using willpower or self-control. "The brains of addicts and non-addicts function very differently," said Amanda Johnson, PhD, Clinical Director of Capstone Behavioral Health Care. "After a period of drug use, for example, the part of the brain responsible for self-control becomes less active, and the part of the brain responsible for drive or motivation to do something gets stronger."
An addict's drive to use their substance of choice is often stronger than their control. "This isn't changed very easily," added Johnson. "Drug treatment is often required to help addicts retrain their brains and build new neural pathways. Multiple tries may be needed before they find success."
If an addict is depressed, that makes it worse. "Many people who turn to drugs are self-medicating because of a mental or emotional issue," said Johnson. "They become addicted because their bodies build a tolerance to the drugs, and they need to use more and more to get the same escape from their problems. After a period of time, addicts may not even get high anymore. Their body's tolerance requires continual use just to feel normal." Quitting cold turkey can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, vomiting, seizures, blackouts, and in some cases, even death.
"There are important lessons to learn about addictions, including how complicated they are," explained Johnson. "Addicts need more support than just being told to quit. They often are in need of mental health treatment to help them deal with the underlying reasons for their addictions. They have to learn new coping skills and tools before the unhealthy coping tool of drugs or other substance abuse is taken away." For more information about addiction, please contact:
Capstone Behavioral Health Care
1123 1st Avenue E, Suite 200
Newton, Iowa. 50208