Many people new to recovery develop an addiction to drama, which can be difficult for their family and friends to live with. What creates this need for attention and being center stage all the time? Why is every small event magnified and processed as if it were truly life and death? Is this something that just happens with recovering addicts, or do all people have a tendency to dramatize their lives?
How Habits are Formed in Your Brain
It is known that the chemical receptors in the pleasure center of the brain are heavily influenced by most abused substances. As you pump these drugs into your brain, addictive patterns begin to form. As you become more and more dependent on the substance, you also form patterns in your brain synapses. This combination becomes a habit after some time and then becomes an addiction. Depending on the substance, it can happen quite rapidly for many who begin to use and then abuse the substance.
Those who begin with abusing one substance may believe that the particular drug is the problem and often switch to another one and then another one, switching drugs to end their dependency on the former. This phenomenon may also be seen in recovery settings, where addiction to alcohol leads to an addiction to sugar, an equally damaging substance that may continue to damage the blood sugar system of the abuser. The brain is producing much the same effect from the sugar as it did with the alcohol, thus allowing the reward system to mimic the chemicals produced by drinking.
Drama as a Replacement Rush
Some behaviors can stimulate the production of dopamine and give you a "rush" that is not as strong but is still addictive, without the use of drugs. These "fixes" can be numerous in range, from shopping to eating, from sex to tobacco. While they are all legal, their benefits in the reward center of the brain may bring the same sensations that using drugs did. A rush of adrenaline signals the idea of the behavior, perhaps the danger of being caught will fuel additional adrenaline. Whatever sets this off, the adrenaline itself becomes an addictive substance to the addict's brain. It wants more and more.
As the addiction to the adrenaline begins to form, behaviors, such as creating drama, will escalate to further stimulate and flood the brain with the same "rush" one experiences when they begin using a chemical substance. Because there is a reward system activated when you receive attention within your peer group, you may begin to tell stories and find ways to receive larger and larger amounts of attention. This "rush" will become addictive, just as other behaviors do.
People in recovery may form many new patterns of achieving the same effects of drugs and alcohol long after they are abstinent from the use of them, and this includes creating drama and then becoming addicted to the chemical response the drama produces. The hope is you learn to acknowledge and recognize all your addictive behaviors and balance them into recovery.