Many people view the disease model of addiction with skepticism. They may assume that people who are addicted to drugs are making the conscious decision to continue using simply because they enjoy the feeling. In the beginning stages of drug use, this may be true. However, as addiction develops, it entirely changes the brain in a way that make it impossible for one to overcome their drug use with self-will. Scientific research in the effects of addiction on the brain have found that, once drugs use becomes addiction, willpower alone is not sufficient to achieve sobriety. We cannot wish away addiction any more than we could wish away other chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes. We may have some ability to walk about from drugs before addiction becomes too severe. However, once a certain line is crossed and substance use becomes addiction, we find that we have entirely lost the ability to choose whether or not we use drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Addiction occurs when a person cannot control the impulse to use drugs even when there are negative consequences—the defining characteristic of addiction.” Many people suffering from the disease of addiction face negative consequences as a result of their substance use. We may face job loss, relationship problems incarceration, or health problems, yet still we continue to use drugs. Our ability to remain abstinent from drugs becomes entirely impossible, not due to a lack of willpower, but from the physical changes that alter the brain and behaviors. Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explained, “A common misperception is that addiction is a choice or moral problem, and all you have to do is stop. But nothing could be further from the truth. The brain actually changes with addiction, and it takes a good deal of work to get it back to its normal state.” Eventually, drugs become the only thing capable of providing a sense of reward. The reward from drug use outweighs the rewards of everything else, including relationships, self-care, and family. We begin to engage in drug use compulsively because it is the only thing that is capable of giving us pleasure, and to stop often means facing extremely painful withdrawal symptoms. The ability to cease drug use requires changing deeply embedded behaviors and healing the brain to return it to a state of normalcy. This cannot be done with willpower alone and treatment is often required.
Your story can become one of hope and redemption in sobriety. You can make the courageous decision to begin building a better life by seeking help today. Oceanfront Recovery, offers an independent medical drug and alcohol detox that is closely supervised by an affiliated team of detox specialists who utilize a wide range of safe and effective medications to help manage the physical symptoms. For more information about Drug and Alcohol Detox at Oceanfront Recovery, please call today: (877) 279-1777