Addiction is crazy, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. It destroys. It tears down. It paralyzes and debilitates. Addiction is no respecter of persons, it doesn’t care about race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, socio economic status, reputation, political affiliation, religion, or demographic region because addiction only cares about addiction. Addiction is a disease.

The news reported today that Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poison, basically that she drank herself to death. Many celebrities struggle with addiction, others like Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson unfortunately succumbed to it. It is clear that addiction is one of societies greatest challenges. The shock of its pervasive affects on the lives of individuals struggling with addiction and affected family members is devastating.

I often frame addiction as an issue that goes beyond drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately unlike other kinds of addiction, substance dependence seems to be a much greater problem due to visibility, criminality, stigma and societal cost. Research has shown that addiction is a process by which areas of our brain and specific chemicals called neurotransmitters trigger compulsive pleasure seeking behaviors sometimes called dopamine addiction. Dopamine addiction is the result of our brains being depleted of serotonin and dopamine due continual drug and alcohol use, as levels of these neurotransmitters are reduced, the abuser uses more to attain that euphoria moving them into addiction. It takes more drugs or alcohol to get high because your tolerance has gone up. This accounts for the realities of compulsion and repeat cycles of relapse in attempt after attempt to break free. Here are common sign and symptoms of addiction:

  • Extreme mood changes – happy, sad, excited, anxious, etc
  • Sleeping a lot more or less than usual, or at different times of day or night
  • Changes in energy – unexpectedly and extremely tired or energetic
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Unexpected and persistent coughs or sniffles
  • Seeming unwell at certain times, and better at other times
  • Pupils of the eyes seeming smaller or larger than usual
  • Secretiveness
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Financially unpredictable, perhaps having large amounts of cash at times but no money at all at other times
  • Changes in social groups, new and unusual friends, odd cell-phone conversations
  • Repeated unexplained outings, often with a sense of urgency
  • Drug paraphernalia such as unusual pipes, cigarette papers, small weighing scales, etc

There is hope in fighting this disease if you have a desire and willingness to try. Denial might be a great place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there.

1-Recognize that you have lost control.
2-That you need to regain control.
3-To gain control you will need to be open to accepting help.
4-If you’ve had prior success, what worked? AA/NA? Naturopathic Remedies? Residential Treatment? Outpatient? Therapy? Other resources?
5-Connect to your support system, etc. Family? Friends?

Remember that recovery is not easy, it is a process but you are worth it!

Peace & Blessings,