Most people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol have a difficult time admitting to themselves or others that they have a problem and that they need help. There are many misunderstandings about the nature and cause of addiction, and there are certain stigmas attached to addiction and recovery. The truth is that addiction is a disease, and like others struggling with a disease, those affected need help to get well. There should be no shame or fear associated with this realization, but there often is.
Psychological Addiction and Self Awareness
One of the most common misunderstandings about addiction is the nature of the disease itself. Most people assume that the body’s physical need for the given substance is the most powerful aspect of addiction. The truth is that, while physical addiction is strong and detox can be difficult, the real power of addiction is its ability to change the way a person thinks.
While most intoxicating substances are physically addictive, any chemical or behavior that provides temporary emotional or psychological relief from underlying anxiety, stress, pain, or mental imbalances may lead to addiction. Substance abuse directly impacts the reward center of the brain. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for a range of critical psychological functions including the following:
- Managing emotions and feelings
- Handling anxiety and responding to stress
- Reinforcing behaviors
- Forming habits
- Controlling impulses and urges
An addicted individual’s brain will use all of these functions to keep a person from getting the help he or she needs to get clean.
Common Fears Associated with Addiction Treatment
Fear and anxiety about admitting to addiction are completely normal. Drug addiction causes users to do the following:
- Make excuses for continued substance abuse
- Diminish the repercussions of destructive behaviors on self and others
- Deny that addiction is really a problem
- Be overconfident in the ability to quit at any time
- Fear a loss of status, respect, or other relationships due to admitting to an addiction
- Fear that the “good times” will end when drug use ends
- Fear of negative employment or career development if the disease is made known
- Fear the pain of withdrawal
- Fear that treatment is too expensive
Untreated addiction is always more expensive than treatment in financial, relational, career, and overall quality of life terms. There are many people who believe in you, respect you, and want to see you recover from addiction.