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Very interesting POV, helped me understand the addict brain better

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Very interesting POV, helped me understand the addict brain better

Old 06-27-2015, 08:59 PM
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Very interesting POV, helped me understand the addict brain better

I copied this,I thought it was insightful and could be very helpful in explaining why we go through PAWS.It was not written by a Doctor but obviously uses facts and a language easily understood.

Ok, get comfortable, this is going to be long. Please be patient as this may be hard to explain via this medium but I will do my best.

First and formost, most people, addicts included, either don't know or don't believe that addiction is a very real, very physcial disease. We are not addicts because we are weak and we don't have trouble quitting for that reason either. I'm going to attempt to explain what addiction truly is and why it is so hard to overcome so put your feet up and bear with me for a bit, k?

There is a natural chemical that our brain produces that is called Dopamine. This chemical is what stimulates our pleasure center and also what lets our brain inturperate what measures it needs to take for survival. So, picture if you will, the following. On one side of your brain you have a "sac" that contains the Dopamine, on the other side of your brain you have a receptor (For the rest of this post I'm going to refer to this receptor as a gate for easier explaination). Now, in a normal, non addicted brain, Dopamine is released naturally after say a good meal or sex. In the normal course of things for instance, if we eat a steak dinner, the sac will release the normal amount of Dopamine, let's say one squirt. The gate opens, receives the Dopamine, we feel good and everything is as it should be. Now, drugs also release Dopamine only at a much higher level, so while a candy bar might release one "squirt" of Dopamine, drugs release up to 100 times the normal amount of Dopamine. So, when we first begin to use, we swallow a pill or shoot some Heroin, 100 squirts of Dopamine gets released causing the Euphoric feeling that leads us to use again. The problem now though is that after a while, that one gate cannot open fast enough to accept the unusually high amount of Dopamine that is being supplied, so being the amazing organ that the human brain is, it simply grows another gate to help it accomodate. So, now we have 2 gates that are open and want to be fed. So instead of needing to only take 1 or 2 pills a day, suddenly we find that we need 3 or 4. Now 200 times the normal amount of Dopamine is being released and the process continues, these 2 gates need help so the brain grows another, and another and another........Now we find ourselves needing 6 or 7 pills a day.

While this is happening our brain is led to believe that it now HAS to have this chemical to survive, just as it knows that it needs food and sex to live and to reproduce. It know thinks that without drugs it will die, for you see the brain doesn't know what we are giving it, just that it MUST have it or die. So, with continued use, our tolerance grows due to the extra gates that we have open, that need to be fed and fed on a consistant basis. So, as opposed to the normal brain that has it's one normal gate, an addict may have 20 or 30 gates now. This is why we can take drugs in a high enough dosage that it would kill a normal person but for us it is the amount that we need just to feed all those gates and keep ourselves normal.

So now, we decide to quit. Easy enough, right?, I mean, just stop swallowing the pills and all will be well (ever been told that?). Well, as you know, it's not tht easy and the reason why is when we suddenly take that drug away,stop feeding those gates, our brain goes into panic mode, it thinks it is dying. So, what follows? 7 to 10 days of extreme sickness (WD). Our brain is sending out distress signals just like it would if we quit eating (think for a minute what a human will do if they get hungry enough and then you can see why addicts will do things they never thought themselves capable of to get what they need.) Now, after the first few days, the brain begins to realize that it is not going to die and we start to physcially feel better. But that is by no means the end of the problem. Think of those gates for a minute, wouldn't it be nice if when we quit they disappeared and everything went back to normal?

Unfortunately, that is not the case, the addicts brain is forever altered. Those gates NEVER go away, we will always have all those extras. Now, this is where it is so difficult in early recovery. Ok, so we have quit taking drugs, we feel a little better, BUT now we eat a candy bar, the normal amount (that one squirt) of Doapmine is released, BUT ALL of those extra gates open to receive it and our brain starts to scream "IT'S NOT ENOUGH", which of course it is not, we have 30 gates opening, expecting to be fed and they get one little blast instead of what it is used to. This is why in early recovery anything that releases Dopamine needs to be reduced or eliminated if possible.

Of course we have to eat, we can't eliminate that of course but have you ever noticed when you first got clean that you found yourself overeating or craving right after a good meal? We crave after we eat because those gates are open and we may overeat trying to satisfy the need for excess Dopamine. That is why it is a good idea to avoid sweets or products like NyQuil, because they contain sugar and alcohol, which "teases' those gates unnecessarily. Now, while those gates never go away, the good news is that after we are clean for awhile, they do become less sensitive. Eventually even though they are still there, fewer will open and things return to as close to normal as we will ever be able to get to. So, basically we have them, they are laying dormant and if we get say a good 6 months to a year clean time, they pretty much leave us alone. BUT, how many times have you heard an addict say that they were clean for a while and thought they could just use recreationally now and control it? Of course we can't control it, once we take that first pill (or whatever) again, the HUGE amount of Doapmine is released and ALL of those dormant gates are wakened and our tolerance is just as high as it always was. We don't have to build it back up, we pick right back up at the amounts that we are accustomed to. Or how many times have you seen someone who never had a drinking problem get clean from pills and then become an alcoholic? They think that if they are not taking their DOC they will be ok. But remember, our brain doesn't know if we are feeding it Vicodin, Heroin or whiskey. All it knows or cares about it is the end result that the substance produces.

Now, we are getting clean, the WD's are over, we are not using any other substance but yet we are miserable, can't sleep, are depressed, anxious, etc, etc....Now, why is this, it's not fair, right?, I mean, we did what we were supposed to and yet we feel so ABNORMAL and it seems to last forever. Well, the reason for this is simple, when we were growing all those extra gates and training our brain to rely on a unnatural chemical, we ACTUALLY, PHYSCIALLY altered the chemical makeup in the brain. So, now we may be clean but we are left with a bunch of synopsis (sic),and receptors that are in essence "misfiring". We feel the way we do because our brain in no longer functioning normally. This does eventually heal but it is not a quick process by any means. Our brains have to repair all the damage we did when we went in and rearranged it's furniture so to speak. Usually this takes anywhere from several months to a year. The longest time belonging to those whose DOC is opiated based, such as Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin and Heroin.

This is why such extreme caution has to be use in early recovery and also why so many addicts relapse. It take so long to feel normal again that most of us give up and return to the drug induced normality that they are used to. The sad truth is that only 2 out of 10 addicts recover. And it again is not because they are weak people, but rather because it is such an enormous battle mentally that most lose. I mean, how long can you go through living everyday just not caring about anything? Most can't get through that. BUT, if your stay strong, have a support system and be patient, one day you discover that you can smile again and while it may only last a few seconds, it is a real feeling and you can being to hope. There is life after drugs, and I won't lie, it is NEVER the same as it was before the addiction takes us but it can be rewarding and meaningful.

So, as far as what to do to continue succesful recovery, A support system is key as is proper diet and Vitamins. Especially Zinc and Magnesium as these are two that we deplete with use and also the ones necessary to provide the quickest MENTAL recovery.
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Old 06-27-2015, 09:12 PM
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Thanks for posting this. It's easy to understand, and clearly points to 100% long-term abstinence as the only chance to heal.
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Old 06-28-2015, 02:03 PM
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Good article Melissa. It caught my attention because my husband suffered from PAWS symptoms for many months. He got through though. I think it helps us a lot to understand as much as we can medically. Having these answers explained so much to me and I knew there was an actual recovery process the body has to go through.
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Old 06-28-2015, 10:02 PM
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Explained perfectly! Thank for posting this!
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Old 06-29-2015, 11:53 AM
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Yeah thanks!
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Old 06-30-2015, 06:23 AM
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Thank you for this post. It makes PAWS more manageable.
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Old 06-30-2015, 08:17 AM
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Thank you~that helps a lot.
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Old 06-30-2015, 04:39 PM
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What is PAWS?
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Old 06-30-2015, 05:11 PM
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Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
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Old 06-30-2015, 05:26 PM
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Thanks, Melissa. I wish that the biochemical understanding of substance abuse was more widespread. I know it is much easier to say "do the crime, do the time", "play stupid games, win stupid prizes", and write off antisocial behavior in the form of drug and other substance abuse as just criminal acts that deserve punishment.
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Old 07-01-2015, 04:30 AM
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I forgot to add: But the scientific reality is that mind and body are inextricably intertwined.
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Old 07-02-2015, 12:33 AM
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No Melissa0067!

You got it all wrong! The only reason there
are addicts is because they are weak and desire
to do crimes and hurt those that love them.....
and we should build more prisons and lock them
up and torture them until they are good (or dead!)

Don't try to weasel out of it with some scientific
mumbo jumbo! We need to get tougher on them,
go full on medieval-----science never explained anything!

-------Obviously this is all tongue and cheek. Before my father
passed we would spar endlessly on every subject known to
mankind. One of his observances went along the lines of
"Son, you form clear and cogent arguments.....where you fail
is in your utter disrespect for the awesome destructive power
of ignorance (especially wilfull ignorance).

I argued of course. A son has to , to save face.

My dearest Dad, from this side of the hereafter I pay my respects.

You were right on the ignorance thing.

If they are truly monsters than we should proceed along
obvious (medieval) lines. To do anything else would be
tantamount to admitting that addicts are........

(GASP!)

Human beings.

If they are human beings------then God forgive us for OUR
addiction to easy nonsensical "phony tough" answers....
such as the prison-industrial complex.

I wonder if God's heart could hold so much forgiveness?
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:55 AM
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Is this from a scientific paper? Do you have the original source? It doesn't actually prove that addiction is a disease.

I also disagree about the tolerance staying the same after a period of abstinence. I know from personal experience this is not the case.
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Old 07-02-2015, 05:55 AM
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Easyrider, Not only is there is insurmountable evidence that addiction is a disease, it's the very definition!

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. (American Society of Addiction Medicine)
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Old 07-02-2015, 05:57 AM
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Vale, Refreshing post! I recognize your user name by the way. I think it was you and "kindeyes" who were very welcoming to me when I joined sometime around 2010.
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Old 07-02-2015, 02:24 PM
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A rennaissance man pulled of the the 15th century
would be dumbfounded at the stupefying advances
in science we have made. He would also be confused
by our addiction to fit the totality of it into neatly
defined artificial constructs like language.

Disease or not disease.....that is the question.
Or is it? The greatest slight of late seems to be
"politically correct".......implying one lacks the
courage to look facts in the face.

I see it differently. In real life I am an 'operator'.
Someone who works in realtime in systems requiring
fast, accurate decisions involving the highest possible
costs of error.....with no reset button save death.

To me the question itself is a dodge. A battlefield
nurse does not have the luxury of debating whether
there are 39 or 40 angels fit on the head of a pin.
In the horror of post battle, he (or she) has to make
life/ death decisions ON THE FLY knowing more the
25% of the ones he/she makes are WRONG and will
cost the soldier on the stretcher his or her LIFE. How
can this be done?

FAST. Because more are airborne inbound NOW.

My last word of this whole BS "disease/moral failure"
false dichotomy.If one seeks enlightenment......track down
Nora Volkov ,former head of the US NIDA. A heavyweight
and, interestingly enough in the fabric of history, a
granddaughter of Trotsky. Her signature line is "it's all
about the dopamine".

We had made some terribly embarassing choices
as a civilization. We have substituted passion for reason.

That never ends well.
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Old 07-02-2015, 02:57 PM
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Forgot to add: I think the "hungry mouth" analogy is
good, but agree with Easyrider that tolerance does
not stay the same. I doubt it ever approaches pre-
addiction levels, but way above pre addiction levels
does not sound unreasonable.

Many addicts die quickly when released from
confinement. They make a beeline for the nearest
dopehouse for their 'usual' amount'.....and it kills
them. Their tolerance has most certainly gone down,
that fact costing them their lives.
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Old 07-02-2015, 03:23 PM
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Jesus Christ! Did I actually pen " tongue and cheek"

My professors are turning in their graves!!! I beg
the English language for forgiveness!!
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Old 07-03-2015, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Easyrider View Post
Is this from a scientific paper? Do you have the original source? It doesn't actually prove that addiction is a disease. I also disagree about the tolerance staying the same after a period of abstinence. I know from personal experience this is not the case.
I definitely agree that tolerance doesn't stay the same like this post says... An addict can't be sober for 5 years and then use the same amount of DOC without most likely overdosing. I think the point was more that for an addict, use of almost any substance in the future can be a path back downward. Which I've seen as pretty accurate. Many think it'll be okay to replace DOC with something legal but their brain is still recovering.
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Old 07-03-2015, 10:24 AM
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I love this, I printed it out and took a copy to my sons doctor.
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