Addiction takes away the things we once held closest to us, makes us believe we deserve it, and tells us that nothing else matters. Recovery is essential in rebuilding a fulfilling, healthy life.
When you are trying to overcome addiction, it is common to feel an odd but powerful sense of loss, a feeling that you are giving up something. This can be experienced both physically, as your body goes through the struggles of withdrawal, but also mentally and emotionally as your mind begins to shift away from what may have become your sole method of coping with life’s challenges.
During this time, it is critical to remember the things that addiction has stolen from you. Addiction only masks itself as a way to cope; in reality it piles on more and more hardship while stripping away your natural resilience. Dependency is not adding something to your life, but rather systematically ripping things away that should fulfill you, define you, and give you strength. Here are six essential parts of our humanity that addiction takes from us.
At some point in your addiction, you likely realised that you have lost control over your substance use. Though it’s very normal for people to be in denial over the extent of their dependency, for many there will come a moment where they understand just how powerful their addiction is.
Addiction threatens free will by fundamentally altering the way in which the reward centre in the brain works. A significant part of the way we are motivated to pursue goals, opportunities, and pleasures relies on the natural functioning of this centre. The neurotransmitter dopamine is an important cue in telling the brain to expect a reward – it begins flowing when we are in pursuit of something we want. Once we’ve accomplished what we’ve set out to do, dopamine returns to its nerve cells, and other parts of the brain get involved in enjoying the fruits of our labour.
In addiction, the flow of dopamine is artificially stimulated far beyond its normal release-and-return pattern, which throws the brain into a state of constant craving. It forces people to do things that they would not normally do of their own free will to satisfy the craving. This rewiring of the brain is a key reason why professional care is often essential in overcoming addiction – it takes time, and targeted therapy, for the mind to heal and rebalance.
Addiction thrives in secrecy, depending on the lies we tell ourselves just as much as those we begin telling other people. As addiction becomes to consume more of your time, energy, and attention, you begin to craft excuses for why you had to spend so much time out, or the reason you were compelled to drink that much. When those close to you start to notice something is amiss, more lies come up to defend yourself, justify your choices, and protect your addiction – even though it’s slowly destroying you. Dependency compels people to double down on their denial at the expense of jobs, relationships, and once-solid credibility with those they love and care about.
It can be difficult to recognise just how much time your addiction occupies until you start trying to nail it down. How much of a day is spent craving something, seeking it out, actually using it, recovering from it, and beginning the cycle again? How many hours are spent hiding it, defending it, or fighting with a loved one about it? How many are spent struggling with your own worries about it, concerns you are both unable to shake but trying desperately to suppress? The sheer amount of time that addiction demands of us strips those days, months and years away from the people and things we love and draw happiness and strength from.
As addiction progresses, it attacks our feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. For some, these may have been lowered due to circumstances outside the dependency, and using substances or indulging in certain behaviours has been a method of masking the pain of not believing in or loving themselves. For others, the problems caused by addiction – the destruction of cherished relationships, the loss of goals or abandonment of pursuits, the things seen or experienced in the spiral of dependency – have eroded their sense of personal dignity. In either case, addiction serves to worsen self-esteem and further delay potential healing and growth.
The nature of addiction propels it to the highest priority in the brain, superseding everything else in life. This often comes at a heavy cost to personal relationships, particularly as you try to downplay the reality of addiction’s place in your life. Addictions are poisonous to trust, a fundamental building block of any relationship, and so you will find that previously stable, dependable connections are beginning to slip away or have already slipped away.
Our sense of purpose and addiction are related in some interesting ways. Some develop dependency in part because of a feeling of a lack of purpose – you have retired from your work for example, and no longer know what you are getting up in the morning for, or tough times have left you struggling with deep feelings of unworthiness or low self-esteem. Others become addicted in pursuit of their purpose, telling themselves that their addiction actually serves their goals somehow.
A sense of purpose, an understanding of our place in the world and what we have to offer those around us, is essential in building resilience, satisfaction, and a feeling of belonging. Addiction takes that away, obscuring it at a surface level with a cloud of craving and intoxication, but failing to fill the chasm left when we’re not connecting with why we’re here. Removing addiction from your life and discovering your purpose is transformative and powerful, and underscores the importance of treatment and recovery.
What Recovery from Addiction Means at The Dawn
When we consider the term “recovery,” it’s important to hone in on exactly what it means. This is a period in which you recover what has been taken from you by the disease of addiction. This is where you regain your strength, your dignity, your sense of purpose. It is where you rebuild your relationships, renew trust, and make up for lost time. At The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab in Thailand, our purpose is to help you find freedom from addiction. We will work with you to unearth and understand the root causes of your addiction, and build new, healthy coping mechanisms to ensure that you can manage your recovery and handle life’s stresses without the burden of addiction.
Don’t let addiction take one more moment from you. Call The Dawn today and begin the process of recovery.