Recovery and Relapse
What must be remembered is that the rewards for living a sober life are many, and they should be considered as motivation to remain clean and sober. The Brain In order to understand about recovery, one must first understand about addiction. Drug addiction is thought to be a combination of both biological and psychological factors, including the Dopamine Theory (Pinel, 2007). The Dopamine Theory is one in which the hypothesis states that addicts have reduced dopamine levels when not using drugs, which makes it extremely difficult for them to stop using for any length of time (Pinel).
There is much evidence supporting this theory, there is also evidence supporting the theory that sex and food also increase the release of dopamine in the brain as natural reinforcers. The neurotransmitters are constantly working in the brain, releasing their chemicals which are needed for healthy living. Too much of one of too little of one throws the body into an unbalance state, whether it is before or after drug use.
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When a person is first in recovery from drugs, their biological makeup is considerably out of sync.
What is normal for them due to the drug use is not normal for others, and their brains are reacting as if in a “crash”. The production of dopamine is lessened, and they feel lethargic and often depressed due to the lack of drugs in their systems. Sometimes their serotonin and endorphin levels are effected which leads to a biological and mental depression. This is causing a biological reaction which then brings on a psychological reaction of anxiety and stress (Pinel, 2007), which can be very daunting to the person in recovery.
Without the energy needed from the brain, many people lose all internal motivation, leaving them craving more of what the drug brought to their system. Craving Craving is an extremely intense urge for the drug that has been withheld from the person, and many times this craving is too intense for many addicts in recovery to withstand. The negative symptoms from the withdrawal are many, and oftentimes they are both physical and mental, causing even more cravings to “feel better” again (Deckers, 2010).
This motivation to use again is negative, although at the time it is often the only foreseeable event a person sees that will help them. Addiction is terrible, withdrawal is painful, and the mental stress endured is extremely hard for many to take for long, especially without the support of family or friends. Heredity Oftentimes it is presumed that everyone has a parent or loved one that can help these people in recovery on their journey, and motivate and encourage them in their walk toward sobriety, but that is not always the case.
In most cases there is a genetic predisposition to addiction, meaning that there may be some inherited traits. This theory implies that there may be a gene to be isolated that causes addiction, though this is only a theory without proven support (Deckers, 2010). What is known though is that between the inherited traits and the environment a person is raised in, much is taken in by which the personality is formed. A person with a personality for sensation seeking or an impulsive and high-risk taker will probably be more at risk for developing addictions than someone who is a lower risk taker and who less impulsive (Deckers).
There is also the theory that in some addicts the reward center is not readily activated by the “usual” and everyday occurrences in life (Comer, 2005). This reward deficiency makes it even more difficult for a person to remain internally motivated to remain in recovery due to the physiological malfunctions taking place in their brains. When a person comes into recovery, they may be motivated internally to have a better life, become a better parent, or just remain sober. This motivation may be psychological and very strong, the person may want to be sober and become sober minded and start out on their path of recovery with that strong ntrinsic factor. After they have stopped using drugs, their battle is actually just beginning as they learn to deal with the triggers in life that may fall on them. If they do not have close family to lend them support and to encourage them in an external motivating factor, then the person in recovery may give in to the familiar, and fall back into their life of drugs. There are also the physiological happenings in the brain and their neurotransmitters, which can be more powerful than their psychological drive (Comer, 2005). Relapse
Although there are many obstacles to be found in recovery, recovery is possible. There are many events to watch out for though on this path that could lead to drug relapse. Priming is a good example of how someone can relapse, by using a drug just one more time (Deckers, 2010). Many times a person can have a time of sobriety and their physical withdrawal symptoms have decreased. They begin to feel better as their neurotransmitters and dopamine levels are more stable, and psychologically they begin to have more confidence and self-esteem.
Though this is good, it can lead a person to believe that they can use “just one time” and stop. This one time use can actually reestablish their cravings for the “high”, and cause the person to be right back into their addiction. This priming actually brings on the cravings once again for the effects the drugs have on them, and that becomes their internal or intrinsic motivation (Deckers). Extrinsic and Intrinsic Factors Many times a person can begin this fall and be helped by external factors, such as their families and friends encouragement to stop using.
External motivations for sobriety are often in the form of friends and family who can encourage and pull a person to wanting a better and drug free life. Unfortunately these same types of external motivations found through others can also be the motivation that pulls a person back into the drugs too. Motivation can be both positive and negative, and can be found internally or externally. It is thought that someone with strong internal or intrinsic motivational factors can become sober easier and maintain that sobriety longer than those with less of the internal motivation.
Facts seem to point out though that it takes both, internal and external motivations working in a “push/pull” rhythm to gain more strength and ability to stand. Other external motivating factors to remain in recovery could be loss of freedom, loss of children, and even loss of their own lives if their physical heath has deteriorated due to their drug use. These reinforcers and punishers play a big role in whether a person maintains their sobriety or not, and should be used to positively encourage the person on their path of recovery.
Positive reinforcement can also be used with incentives, such as getting their children back, to encourage sobriety. Many times, before a person enters in to recover for their first time, they have been arrested or felt the negative punishers from their drug use. These same negative punishers may also be the incentive needed for someone to gain and remain sober. Conclusion In conclusion it must be stated that although recovery can be difficult, it is done on a daily basis. It is in the recovery process that people learn to find deep within them a reason for living sober, and see external rewards and incentives to maintain their sobriety.