Originally Posted @ http://www.newbridgerecovery.com/newbridge-understanding-addicts-mind/
The mind of the chronic addict, and alcoholic, has been baffling spouses, friends, bosses, scientists, and therapists for centuries. What the heck is going on in the addict’s brain? To the casual outsider, the behavior of the addict seems irrational, confusing, and even insane. They are like the person who puts his hand on a hot stove and gets burned, yet five minutes later they do it again! People unfamiliar with addiction may observe the addict’s actions and think him/her weak-willed or moronic. A recovered addict myself, often even I can’t understand the minds of the addicts I interact with. Surprisingly the addict is generally a sensitive, self-aware, and complex individual; unpredictable at times. My experience as a former addict gives me additional insight into the mysterious realm of the addict’s mind, and here are my observations:
People (Generally) Don’t Choose to be Addicted
The first step in understanding the addict is to realize that they are sick, actually suffering from a disease called addiction. Similar to bi-polar and depression, addiction is a mental condition that results in a defect in the functioning of the neuro transmitters of the brain, specifically the dopamine-reward system. Put simply, the brain of the addict is vulnerable to dependency upon drugs and alcohol because of the effect they have on the brain. Most addicts try to stop or cutback their substance abuse when consequences and problems arise, like when the person burns his hand on the stove. Yet they find themselves succumbing to abusing drugs, putting their hands on the hot stove again. Eventually they lose control over their ability to moderate or stop using drugs. Although the addict is suffering from a disease, it shouldn’t be an excuse for their behavior or actions. Many parents or spouses of the addict think that their love, affection, or threats should be enough incentive to damper addiction, yet these methods often fall short to stop the neurological entrapment of drug addiction.