In your journey to recovery, aside from seeking professional help, it's critical to establish a support network that includes family, friends, and peers. Additionally, you need to identify and understand your triggers—the events or feelings that make you think about your addiction.
Addiction can feel like a stigmatizing disease when you're going through it. Stigma results from negative stereotypes that impose labels on you that you don't deserve. It can hold you back from seeking help and hinder your journey to recovery.
People who struggle with mental health issues are often more likely to be addicted to drugs. Difficult family situations, feelings of rejection and alienation, or a lack of attachment with parents can also increase the risk.
Addiction can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. It can also cause serious consequences for your health, personal relationships and career. People with addictions struggle to stop using drugs or engaging in harmful addictive behaviors even though they know it’s causing harm to themselves and others.
Many people who struggle with addiction can trace their problems to childhood traumas and adversities. In most cases, the abuse and neglect they experience as children leads to self-medicating with drugs or alcohol as adults. Abuse, neglect and household dysfunction are known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). It is these experiences that are linked to the onset of addiction in adulthood.
Social factors are significant in a person’s life and contribute to addiction. Some of the most notable risk factors include maladaptive peer relationships, unstable family environments and the presence of drug-using friends. On the other hand, protective factors such as strong religious beliefs, school connectedness and grit can discourage drug use.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool in addiction recovery. It helps individuals process the distressing feelings of guilt and shame that can accompany their drug use. Research shows that mindfulness practices can actually change the structure of a brain. This is one reason why mindfulness is becoming a popular treatment for addiction recovery.
Psychological factors are processes that operate at the individual level, impacting mental state and influencing behaviors. These traits include a person’s evaluative attitudes and beliefs about people, places, politics, religion, products or brands.
Just like with any illness or condition, genetics can play a part in addiction - however this doesn't guarantee that anyone in your family will develop alcoholism or drug abuse themselves. Biological factors also include neural pathways that influence your brain chemistry, which can be altered medically or naturally.
Addiction experts acknowledge that repeated drug use causes distinct brain changes that mimic learning processes involved with other activities and will return to normal when drugs are no longer taken. Some individuals believe that the disease model of addiction undermines moral accountability and restricts addicts' free will; thankfully, such beliefs are completely baseless.
Welcome to Dr. Robert Jaffe's blog post series, where we embark on a journey of understanding and treating addictions. As a compassionate psychotherapist with four decades of clinical experience, based in Encino, California, Dr. Jaffe is dedicated to helping individuals, couples and families navigate their path to recovery from addiction. But his expertise goes beyond addiction itself, encompassing trauma, relationship difficulties, depression, and anxiety. Throughout this series, Dr. Jaffe will share his valuable insights, knowledge, and practical strategies for addressing addiction and promoting holistic healing.