People often wonder why are drugs addictive and why an addictive substance is hard to give up, particularly when we have lost that “honeymoon” feeling with our substance of choice and know that we would be far better off – if only we could kick the habit.
Ultimately it us who make the choice to use drugs addictively, and it is our responsibility to resolve the problem.
No one can be free of addiction to drugs while they continue to see in the use of drugs the answer to life’s issues.
Drugs don’t help us to resolve our problems - drugs are toxic and bring us down.
The more we use drugs, the less capacity we gradually have to get back on top of our problems.
When we pump chemicals into the body it is as if pushing ourselves upwards on a swing, we cannot stay there forever, we have to come down again. And when we come down we don’t settle back to our original resting position – we swing back and forth until the swing slows down and eventually stops.
The roller coaster of pain and emotions that we go through with drug withdrawal is something like what happens with the swing, when we are no longer putting in the effort to create a forward momentum, no longer focused on our purpose, no longer “high” on our drugs.
The downswing after a drug high is partly a reversion back to our former depressed or anxious way of being, and partly caused by a physical reaction to the drug. We can expect symptoms of drug withdrawal to fluctuate, with increased levels of depression after use of a stimulant drug, and increased agitation and irritability after use of a sedative.
Many people think that it is the suffering of mood swings and the pain of withdrawal that controls drug seeking behavior, that drug addiction is chemically based, and withdrawal-driven.
The experience of addict’s does not appear to support this.
Addict’s suffer withdrawal symptoms after using drugs. They might simply suffer in silence, or perhaps use other drugs to help reduce withdrawal effects. They might not use again perhaps for days or weeks.
Triggers for compulsive drug use appear to be more complex than a reactive response to the experience of withdrawal effects.
Cocaine is an example of a drug that is extremely addictive, but which generally does not cause any major physical symptoms during withdrawal. The main withdrawal effect of cocaine is that it intensifies and prevents users from getting out of feelings of severe depression.
Cocaine users express their surprise that they feel driven to drug use again, compulsively and addictively, despite the fact that they are not experiencing physical pain.
Cocaine users will use the drug because cocaine makes them feel positive, strong, empowered - without it they feel lost and unhappy. What drives cocaine addiction, and all drug use, is feelings of stress and tension, that have an emotional basis.
Drug use is about getting relief from negative emotional feelings.
If we used a substance that only made us feel bad, not only would we not become addicted to it, we would not use it again. The attraction of drug use, it’s purpose, is to give us a fleeting glimpse of nirvana, eliminating, at least for a while, all of our physical and emotional pain.
Drugs that we use don’t do anything good for our mind or our body. All drugs imitate natural substances that our body can produce by natural means given the chance and the opportunity. Natural endogenous “drugs” are cheaper to use, more potent in their actions, and come with no side effects.
Drug use is only a particular way of letting our burdens go, casting off the negative, so as to enjoy the relative freedom of the moment.The reason for us feeling burdened is persistent stress.
Stress is like a prevailing wind that causes young saplings and trees to grow bent over and flattened to the ground. Plants retain a capacity to grow straight, upright and tall, if and when environmental conditions improve. Drug use makes us feel as if we have suddenly sprung up, free of our pain and emotional burdens.
It is the attempted recapturing of this experience that drives drug use – some might call it the pursuit of illusion.
Once we begin to associate drug use with the relief of pain, it can become like a knot.
We feel the stress, experience pain and immediately turn to our drugs.
The more we make this a habit, the less we will rely on other relationships as a potential solution to our problems.
The key to recovery from addiction is to give up drug use, and to regard the downswing as a positive step on the road to addiction recovery.
Comprehensive alcohol and drug addiction recovery programs
provide complete and effective detox, to help eliminate triggers and cravings,
in a supportive, contained and nurturing environment,
and also promote the development of better life skills so that we no longer feel stressed and threatened, by our lifestyle and environment.
When people no longer feel fearful, stressed and depressed, they can give up their addiction to drugs.
Comprehensive programs offer drug addicts their freedom – to live a happy and contented life – without any need to use drugs.
When we have the sense of purpose and resilience to stand on our own two feet, it really is very easy to see through the illusion that all drug use is, and simply say no to drugs, without cravings or regret.