Which Recovers First from Drug Addiction, The Mind or the Body?

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When recovering from an addiction, the mind, body, and spirit are strongly affected in multifaceted ways. The chemical makeup of the drug forces individuals to be mentally and physically dependent on the destructive substance. Mentally, individuals may think that they need the drug to cope with everyday difficulties. Physically, the body becomes used to the effects of the drug. However, during the recovery process, the mind and body both need to recover in their respective ways. Each can recover at a different pace.

Quick to Feel Improvement

Often, the body may quickly feel incremental changes and “feel better” because it is not being poisoned by drugs, is receiving better nutrients and likely sleeping better. Still, it can take weeks for the body to fully detox, cleanse itself and regain strength.

While the mind recognizes the physical improvements, it can also lag in its recovery due to emotional, mental health or traumatic episodes associated with the drug addiction. Just cleansing and strengthening the body is not enough for full recovery. The mind must also cleanse and strengthen as well. The mind’s recovery can often take much longer than the body’s recovery.

Recovery begins with the mind and the thoughts that help support the foundation that the individual is dedicated to the recovery process. The mind must recover first in order for it to take back control of one’s decisions to support a productive and healthy life.

What is Drug Addiction?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says drug addiction is a “chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences.” Drug addiction is the amalgam of genetic and environmental factors. If addiction runs in the family, the person’s likelihood of becoming addicted to a substance increases. Alternatively, environmental factors such as childhood experiences, trauma, and situational stressors impact a person’s decision to abuse a substance.

The mind plays a tremendous role in drug addiction because the beginning use of the drug is often a voluntary experience. Many people who struggle with addiction may also be diagnosed with a psychological disorder such as depression, PTSD, or an anxiety disorder.

Drug addiction begins when the individual cannot find productive coping mechanisms to deal with difficult moments or situations in everyday life. Individuals may feel disconnected from loved ones and may not know how to transform a negative situation or thought into a positive one. The voluntary thought to try drugs to induce a high and an escape of the struggling thoughts and feelings leads to drug addiction and a mental dependence on the drug to cope.

Physical Dependence on Drugs

Individuals become addicted to a drug because the neurotransmitter, dopamine, is released and tells the brain that the drug makes them feel better. The drug affects the “reward circuit” in the brain and essentially tells the mind that the body needs more of the drug to feel good. Over time, the high that is felt after using the drug elicits a constant need for the drug, especially in response to difficult moments and situations of distress.

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Withdrawal symptoms remain a pivotal factor that causes individuals to relapse after recovery. Symptoms of withdrawal may include shaking, nausea, seizures, or in severe cases, death. Excruciating physical pain that is caused from withdrawal of a drug can cause individuals to continue using the drug if the mind does not recover first.

Recovery of the Mind

In order to successfully recover from addiction, the mind must be the first to fully recover. Typically, when people turn to substance abuse to cope with everyday problems, they feel disconnected from their loved ones and their community. Choosing a 12-step treatment program is the solution in connecting individuals to the friends and family who are supporting their recovery process.

Individual therapy sessions help connect individuals to their therapist or counselor and help to refill the mind with more positive thoughts. Professional therapists work closely with patients to help them understand the depths of their addiction and find useful coping mechanisms to incorporate into daily life.

Coping mechanisms include mindfulness, positive self-talk, and enjoyable activities to help individuals manage the environmental stressors that elicit destructive behaviors. The therapist empathizes with the patient and helps them to establish connectedness back into their work and personal lives for a better quality of life.

Group therapy sessions serve as a way to help individuals recover their minds by experiencing stories of struggle and triumph with individuals who are going through similar addiction experiences. Establishing this element of humanity helps individuals understand that they are not alone in their struggle and that they do not have to recover in isolation.

Spirituality Restores the Mind

Choosing a treatment program that centers on spirituality will foster a community of connectedness that helps to destroy destructive thoughts and behaviors. Connecting to faith and living by His Teachings will encourage individuals to be an active and engaged member of the community of God.

The sense of belonging that is felt through prayer, pastoral counseling sessions, and church services will empower the mind to withstand and avoid the temptations of drugs. When individuals understand that God is present in their lives, they become more conscious of their thoughts and how what they do impacts the people that have supported and loved them through their entire recovery process.

When the mind is restored, the drive to use the drug for physical pleasure is diminished. Establishing a strong, positive mental framework that centers around spirituality will recover the mind and consequently, will fully recover the whole body.

Covenant Hills Treatment is a faith-based addiction treatment facility in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas. Covenant Hills emphasizes a whole person approach to care and clients work with pastors, therapists, and counselors who are professionally trained in the Christian-based treatment program. Staff help individuals connect to a larger community of God and support the process of finding purpose again in one’s life beyond this co-occurring diagnosis. 

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Sources

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-or-drug-withdrawal

 


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