Are you looking for hope? Do you feel like addiction has taken over your life and all you want is to get “back to normal”?
Perhaps you or a loved one have been struggling with addiction and you’re discouraged by the progress (or lack of progress) that you are seeing during the recovery process. Or maybe you don’t even see the point in rehab and recovery because you feel that too much damage has been done, too many relationships have been burned, and nothing could ever be the same. You could be giving recovery your absolute best effort but you’re getting worn out and you just want the familiar comforts of home or the life you had before addiction robbed you.
There is good news for you. There is hope.
Many researchers have conducted brain scans on addicts in the midst of their addiction, during recovery, and at various times into the individuals’ sobriety. They have found overwhelmingly that while there is a drastic difference between a healthy brain and an addicted brain, the longer the person stays committed to recovery and sober, the more the brain starts to heal and “reset” back to healthy levels.
Addiction is fostered by the secretion of dopamine and serotonin, and the more an addictive substance is used by an individual, the higher their threshold for experiencing pleasure. So the next time, in order to get the same high, a person will have to take more of that substance or combine it with a different substance to feel the same level of pleasure that they felt last time, and so on. The same could be said for an individual with a sex addiction. This becomes a dangerous cycle of never being able to get enough, which fuels the compulsive and erratic behavior.
During recovery, the brain begins adjusting hormone levels back to where they were meant to be, so eating an apple or viewing a sunset can bring healthy amounts of pleasure without triggering the need for more and more.
You probably know better than anyone that your environment had an impact on your addictive behavior when you were struggling. Who you hung out with, where you went, what you did, your sleep patterns, the things that brought you to stress, secrets you were keeping, etc. all played a role. In order to set yourself up for success during recovery, it would be in your best interest to pay attention to those aspects of your life and take control of things that might need to be adjusted.
As much as you want to “get back to normal”, you might find it helpful to set up some new patterns. First of all, get involved in the consistent group or one-on-one therapy sessions where you can get the support you need to stay strong. Surround yourself with people who support you and can help you along the recovery journey, establish a mindfulness routine, commit to getting better sleep, find a healthy way to relieve the stress that you can’t control, be open and honest whenever you can, and just be perceptive to how different things are affecting you and don’t be afraid to make changes.
The Bottom Line
You may find it easiest to be hopeful for the future when you have a say in what your “normal” looks like. Your old “normal” wasn’t the best situation, and you will find that establishing your new normal is a very empowering and fulfilling act.
Most likely, what you are really looking for is the feeling of security, belonging, fulfillment, and happiness that you long for rather than a specific arrangement of circumstances that you remember fondly. Know that you are not alone and that with the right support, you can start living a refreshed version of the life that addiction had stolen from you.