Many people who have never had a substance abuse problem are either unsympathetic to the struggles of those trying to beat addiction or they don't understand why such addiction is so hard to overcome. There is also much confusion as to why doctors and scientists consider drug or alcohol addiction a "disease," as consuming those substances is initially voluntary.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, initial voluntary use of drugs or alcohol leads to eventual physical changes in the brain, when use of the substance continues. This is why substance abuse transitions from recreational choice to addiction. It's also why addiction is so hard to overcome. Once drugs have become a habit, the brain's communication system and the way nerve cells operate have already been changed. In trying to gain freedom from addiction through detox, the recovering addict actually suffers from these physical alterations. In essence, the brain wages war against the body to continue gaining the substances it has rewired itself to accommodate. Such war usually presents itself through general discomfort, intense nausea, pain, and other physical symptoms. These initial challenges to maintain sobriety can be the most difficult.
Freedom from addiction is a longer road than just getting through detox. Non-addicts and even former addicts new to recovery often underestimate how difficult sobriety can be for someone so accustomed to the instant gratification, escapism, and general detachment provided by drugs or alcohol. The brain, although clean of negative substances after detox, also continues to remember its altered state from days gone by. For its needs the brain generates physical cravings, just as it does for food when the body needs nourishment. Together or separately, triggers and cravings create discomfort in recovery and always present risk for relapse.
Coping with the discomforts of recovery requires a solid support system for the addict, employment of newly learned coping mechanisms, and patience by the people closest to the individual. The first months are the most difficult for everyone concerned. The good news is that as time progresses and sobriety takes a firmer hold, living a healthy life does get easier. Ways to deal with recovery discomfort and help maintain sobriety include:
Gaining freedom from addiction is never easy. Whether you or your loved one suffer from substance abuse, there are many options to help gain and maintain sobriety. A support system is critical for anyone going through recovery and this network is first enabled by the connection to a treatment program experienced in helping addicts detox and maintain sobriety. When it's time to reach out for help, Freedom From Addiction is there for you.
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