For someone who doesn’t suffer from an addiction, it’s easy to think, “Anyone can quit with the right willpower.” The reality is that it’s not that simple. Physical and psychological dependence make it nearly impossible to quit without help. Sure, ending physical dependence is possible with an intensive detoxification process. However, the main reason people struggle with sobriety is due to a psychological dependence.
The key to recovery from active addiction is being honest, open-minded and willing. With these three essential attributes, your brain can begin to heal and end the dependency on drugs or alcohol.
Understanding Psychological Dependence and the Brain
First, you need to understand how your brain works to give you some clarity about the situation. The problem is that addiction affects the part of the brain responsible for self-awareness.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) classifies addiction as a mental disorder. This is because of the way addiction affects the brain. FMRI scans show that a physical change actually takes place in the brain of those with addictions. The main reason behind a psychological addiction is that the prefrontal cortex isn’t functioning properly. This is an enormous problem since it’s responsible for the following:
- Regulating the pleasure system
- Impulse control
- Emotional regulation
- Fear modulation
A common issue people who suffer from addiction run into is this inability to be self-aware. This causes more problems than anything else because it puts people in a state of denial. It makes these individuals believe that they can quit whenever they want to, even though they can’t. Many people try to control their drinking or drug use, but the psychological dependence is too great.
How Psychological Dependence Works
While we need to experience pleasure in order to survive, this primal skill can be a downfall. For example, when we’re hungry, we find food. It satisfies us by giving us pleasure and keeping us alive, and we store the memory. As a result, we know to do that action again, and scientists refer to this as “the habit loop.” The more a person repeats this action, the stronger the habit becomes. In the case of drugs and alcohol, it can turn into an addiction.
Breaking Psychological Dependence Through Addiction Treatment
Treatment programs help you overcome the mental dependency by helping your brain begin to heal. Different methods, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, help you replace old behaviors with new, healthier ones. The dependence comes from the habit loop, which creates very intense cravings. The more you react to situations in a new, healthy way, the more the old habit loop begins to break.
There are different medications that help subdue cravings, but they don’t get to the root of the problem. Holistic therapy is where true recovery from this mental dependency can begin. Methods like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and exercise help break the loop. These types of treatments help you begin to learn how to deal with these emotions, thoughts, and cravings in a healthy way.
People believe mindfulness meditation is the absence of thought, but this is a common misconception. Being mindful is simply noting and acknowledging the thoughts that arise. As you continue to practice this, you begin to see that these thoughts are just sensations of the mind. As with any sensation, you’ll see that they aren’t permanent, and they’ll eventually pass.
Crestview Recovery can help you overcome your dependence on alcohol or drugs. One day at a time, your mind will begin to heal as you go through different forms of therapy. You’ll also gain a new passion for living life through experiential therapies. Give us a call today at 866.262.0531 to find out more about our addiction treatment programs.