CHEMICAL ASPECT OF DRUG ADDICTION
Chemical dependency is a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual problem and must be treated as such for successful recovery.
All of us have natural chemicals in our brain called neurotransmitters. There are about 300 neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin and endorphin. The function of these chemicals is to facilitate the transmission of information from the brain to all parts of the body, by way of electrical impulses.
The information that is transmitted produces a variety of effects. Some of these effects are normal body functions like sweating, digestion and cellular activity of which we are not aware. Other effects we are aware of, these are feelings that cause us to engage in certain activities that are necessary for a healthy life.
Feelings like hunger, which cause us to eat, a natural euphoria when we exercise so that we will exercise again and a sex drive so that our species will continue to exist. Neurotransmitters produced by the brain in the pleasure center or central nervous systems are our body’s natural reward system.
When we are hungry, we eat and feel satisfied. When we need rest, we sleep and feel rested. When we exercise, endorphin is release as neurotransmitters and we feel good, a natural high often called a “runner high.” This high or good feeling we experience through these natural chemicals in our brains are important so that we know what activities are healthy to help us thrive and lead healthy lives.
Addictive drugs produce similar effects in the brain as the natural chemicals. There they behave in a similar manner as the neurotransmitters causing a euphoric feeling or a “high.” After repeated use of addictive drugs it is progressively more difficult for the neurotransmitters to recover after the drugs wear off, which eventually creates a chemical imbalance in the brain.
The chemical imbalances cause a variety of negative feelings like depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of motivation, fatigue, trouble concentrating and others. The only quick way to eliminate that feeling and feel good again is to take the drug again. If the drug is not taken again, withdrawal symptoms begin to occur. Withdrawal symptoms not only strongly intensify the negative feelings but physical discomfort and pain are also experienced.
People will go to great lengths to get more of the drugs to reach that high, and suppress the painful symptoms of withdrawal. If a person is not able to stop using the drug, over time the brain will take longer and longer to restore the neurotransmitters making it more difficult to stop taking the drugs. Eventually the drug user is completely addicted and it becomes nearly impossible to stop taking the drugs without a comprehensive treatment program.
The body processes drugs through a process called metabolization in which the body attempts to rid the system of the drugs. It does this by flushing the drugs through the liver which is our body’s filtering system; through a chemical process the liver breaks the drug down into by-products called metabolites. In this form the drug is "lipophilic" or fat soluble.
Once broken down into this form the drug can be excreted through the urinary track, sweat glands, and respiration. As the metabolites are leaving the system they attach themselves to adipose tissue or fat cells. This is part of the body’s defense system that prevents the drug from damaging the brain, heart, and other vital organs. The fat tissue acts as a sponge to absorb the dangerous drug metabolites then slowly releases them back into the blood stream where they begin the process to be re-metabolized.
The re-metabolization process takes time but varies based on the drug the person’s weight and length of use. Some drug chemical can stay longer in fat cells. The problem is that when the metabolites from drugs such as heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and marijuana get back into the blood stream from the tissue they travel to the brain’s central nervous system, once again causing a chemical imbalance and producing drug cravings, depression, anxiety, irritability, lack of motivation, fatigue and trouble concentrating.
All these side effects are extremely painful, and will usually drive a person to go back taking the very drugs that have caused the pain. Thus the cycle begins again and the user is once again addicted. There are programs that base their program on this aspect of addiction and offer a holistic detoxification.
These types of treatment programs begin treatment with a holistic detox that help cleans the body of drug deposits accumulated in the fat cells.
The drug detoxification is achieved through a strict regimen of vitamins, minerals and other natural supplements in combination with exercise, and a low temperature sauna which rids the body of the harmful drug residue. With the drugs eliminated form the system depression and anxiety stemming from it are less. Once the body is free of these toxins individuals report having more energy, less anxiety and depression and have better concentrate.
Drug addiction is a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual affliction and must be treated as such for successful recovery.
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