Technically, it is possible to become addicted to any substance, food or behavior. However, certain substances, like drugs and alcohol, have a higher potential for addiction. While there are psychological aspects to consider, there is also a physical addiction at play. At Steps to Recovery, we make sure to focus on and treat those physical issues that contribute to addiction.
Reduction of Dopamine and SerotoninChronic or excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol increase the production of chemicals in the brain. Chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are what create euphoria and the sense of a high. However, the brain begins to expect certain levels of these chemicals. This is a physical adaptation that results because of an addiction. When drug or alcohol use ends, the brain responds unfavorably to the drop of chemicals like dopamine. Depression, anxiety and even physical pain can be the result. This is entirely physical, and there is no choice or decision that can alter the way that the brain and body operate. The reduction of dopamine demonstrates physical addiction in a clear, measurable and tangible way.
Changes to the Reward Center of the BrainOne way to think of addiction is as a hijacking of the brain. Normally, the brain is the hub of communication for the human body. It communicates using a complex combination of neurons. An addiction to drugs and alcohol interferes with and changes the reward and communication center of the brain. Some drugs fool the brain into ignoring pain. That’s why seriously injured individuals might be given morphine following a car accident or a surgery. Over time, however, the release of drugs like morphine or other opiates can change the way the brain perceives pain altogether. Other drugs can cause the brain to feel happiness, to hallucinate or to induce sleep. Neurons no longer communicate in the same way, and they interpret signals from other neurons in a different way. Simply put, addiction changes the way the body operates and communicates. This is yet another manifestation of the physical addiction that drugs and alcohol can cause.
Physical Pain Caused by WithdrawalThere is perhaps no better way to highlight physical addiction than during the withdrawal stage. When patients go into a drug or alcohol detox at Steps to Recovery, they will enter withdrawal. While the symptoms of withdrawal can vary depending on the patient and the substance, physical symptoms are very common. Those with a heroin addiction, as one example, can expect a wide range of potential physical symptoms of withdrawal. Common symptoms may include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, sweating, dehydration, a rapid heart rate and muscle spasms. These symptoms are not exclusively psychological, and they can’t be ignored. They are physical symptoms, and they are often similar to a case of the flu. Detox is a critical stage of treatment because it focuses on the physical side of addiction. Once that physical dependence is broken, patients can move on to the other important aspects of addiction recovery.
Treat a Physical Addiction to Drugs and AlcoholAt Steps to Recovery, we offer a whole person approach to addiction treatment. We will not ignore psychological, emotional and mental aspects, but will focus on those plus the physical side of the equation. Patients are treated as unique individuals, each of whom faces their own journey and struggle. We offer a wide range of treatment methods to address each aspect of addiction. Just a few of the most common include the following:
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Family counseling
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Holistic therapies and techniques
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“From the moment you walk through the door you are made to feel like family. You are no longer alone. The clinicians have a way of making you comfortable enough to talk about anything.” -George E.
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“StR has changed my life. What an amazing experience to have. The staff is amazing and I couldn’t ask for a better place to just be ME.” -Tiffany W.