Escaping perceived or real pain is a common reason both teenagers and adults will tell you initially lured them into using drugs. If drug use becomes chronic and addiction takes root however, the common denominator in this experience is usually severe emotional, physical and psychological discomfort. Conversely, the primary reason most people with real life drug abuse stories commit suicide or seek treatment is to escape the pain and suffering caused by the obsessive and compulsive use of drugs and alcohol.
For many individuals like Kerriann, her substance abuse story is comprised of addiction, grief, loss, treatment and recovery. These issues for her are so intermingled that she said it was difficult to choose just one as a topic for her story. Escape from the pain of grief was the motivating factor that drove her into addiction. “I felt like I had found the key that opened the door to eternal bliss…” Drugs however, provided only temporary respite from emotional pain. Before long, Kerriann was experiencing what she describes as the gory details of addiction that included homelessness, jail and thoughts about suicide. Faced with prison or treatment, she opted for the latter, which she perceived as the lesser of two evils. Treatment however, turned out to be the catalyst that gave her the will to live and restored meaning to life.
Although not everyone who use drugs recreationally or for a legitimate medical purpose end up with a drug abuse story, the caveat is to be mindful of the potential for addiction when consuming these substances. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the substance abuse statistics in America is staggering. To begin with, the population consumes 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs and 52 million have reportedly used these narcotic medications for non-medical reasons.
At the annual conference of the National Council for Behavioral Health, NIDA director Nora Volkow explained how addiction affect regions in the brain and the user’s ability to process pleasure and other emotions and functions. By taking drugs, you are overstimulating. “So if this was pleasurable in the past, for it to now be similarly pleasurable, you must achieve a much greater amount of dopamine stimulation” she said. She further stated that in order to get a temporary high, drug users are actually sacrificing their ability to perceive stimulation that is rewarding in the future. “This is the price that people who take drugs are paying” she said. The stories of life that the average person is seeking to experience hardly, if ever, includes addiction.
And yet, people who recognize the onset of this disease typically wait until drug use has become problematic and even then, has to be coerced into treatment rather than seek it out as they would for any other debilitating medical condition. Eventually, habituated drug use can render anyone incapable of voluntarily seeking help for the symptoms and suffering caused by addiction. In fact, in an appeal to revolutionize insurance and mental health care systems and community programs relevant to addiction, Volkow pointed out that addiction is a chronic disease that can make long lasting changes in the brain and yet, only 19% of people who need it are actually receiving treatment.
Finding the way out of addiction begins with asking for help or proactively taking steps to help a loved one to get it. As Kerriann reminds us, the meaning of recovery is to return to a normal state of mind. And, according to Kerriann, the most amazing thing about being in recovery is waking up each morning without the obsessive and compulsive need to use drugs.
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