Addiction to drugs and alcohol is an addiction to chemicals. Chemicals in the brain create chemical responses in the brain. For example, the consumption of drugs and alcohol chemically stimulates the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals which send messages to various parts of the brain. Dopamine is a pleasure messenger. When we feel pleasure, we are feeling the production and spread of dopamine through our brain. Drugs and alcohol create a large production of dopamine which scatters systems in other parts of the brain. With such extreme quantities of dopamine, the brain has to react in a more extreme way. Happiness turns into euphoria. Sadness turns into a deep melancholy. Frustration turns into anger and rage. Emotions are chemical experiences as well. Drugs and alcohol alter the way we feel pleasure, which alters the way we feel our emotions, leaving our brains one chemically altered system. Chemical dependency makes the emotional experience dependent upon drugs and alcohol. Once the brain is chemically dependent, it completely depends on that chemical presence to dictate emotion.
Beginning the recovery process, we start to detox. Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol is the brain and body working together. At once, our system is trying to rid the body of the toxic chemical damage caused by chemical substances and create enough uncomfortable signals to warrant the use of more. In the brain, all of the altered systems go into an emergency state. Dependent upon drugs and alcohol, the emotional response systems start to swing back and forth. Without the constant influence of pleasure, the brain isn’t sure how to feel because it is chemically unbalanced.
Chemical imbalance is what causes the experience of mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Learning about the symptoms of withdrawal from specific substances, we often see depression and anxiety listed. Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol does not create mental illness or a diagnosis of depression or anxiety. Temporarily, as the brain works hard to create a new state of homeostasis, depression and anxiety will be passing experiences.
Time, healing, sleep, food, exercise, and therapy support the brain in returning to normal. Learning to cope with passing emotional experiences which might be categorized as depression or anxiety is a powerful transformation, empowering the ability to navigate emotions throughout recovery and life.
New Vista Behavioral Health is committed to helping you on your road to long term recovery. Begin our partnership today by calling 888-316-3665.