If you have a friend or family member struggling with addiction, you may wonder what it feels like to walk in their shoes. If you’ve never experienced substance addiction, it can be hard to understand what it feels like to be an addict.
Loneliness and Isolation
Feeling isolated, alone, and like no one understands you are common for people struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. This may be partly because many addicts have underlying mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, that aren’t diagnosed or treated. Sometimes, people feel dissatisfied with how their lives have turned out – successes they didn’t achieve, families, or relationships they don’t have. Many people also feel a cycle of shame that comes with the addiction. Regret over things they’ve done or said is common, and is reinforced each time they drink or use.
Many people tend to withdraw from others as their addiction worsens. The shame may make them uncomfortable with being around people who aren’t using, or they may opt to lose themselves in the escape that drugs or alcohol are providing.
Some people may begin using or drinking more and more to cope with these feelings and to alleviate the pain of loneliness.
The Thrill of the High
The euphoria that users feel with the first sip or hit can make these feelings fade away. Drugs and alcohol affect the pleasure receptors in the brain and provide artificial elation. The brain produces two hormones, dopamine, and serotonin, that engage with the pleasure receptors when the person does something that produces joy. For example, dopamine “rewards” the person for accomplishing goals or completing a workout. Serotonin is the “happy hormone” produced when people engage in activities that bring them joy, like a hobby or fun with a friend. Each time the addict gets high, their pain is replaced by reliable pleasure. They feel good to be alive, and things are better now that the drug is in their system.
Drugs and alcohol are always there and can be depended on to produce the high the addict needs, both physically and emotionally. Instead of obtaining joy or pleasure through relationships with loved ones, exercise, or accomplishing goals, non-drug activities that stimulate the production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, addicts bypass the “work” and get straight to the reward.
The Pain of Consequences
Over time, the consequences of drug or alcohol use start piling up. Frequent hangovers can affect your attendance at work or your performance, or withdrawals from drug use may make it hard to hold down a job. You may withdraw from friends or family that aren’t drinking or using drugs because “they just don’t understand.” Or, perhaps shame about your actions while drunk is causing you to pull away.
Often, the more addicts experience negative consequences, the more they will seek comfort in the one reliable thing that brings a bit of happiness, the very drug that’s causing the consequences. They often know deep down that drinking is causing this pain in their life, but it’s often the only thing that can be relied upon to bring joy, too. Many addicts may want to quit but think they cannot do it.
Recovery Is Possible
No matter how deep you are in your addiction, recovery is possible. Help is here for you. We offer a compassionate, professional addiction recovery program for people addicted to drugs or alcohol at hickory Treatment Centers. We evaluate you as a whole person and tailor your treatment methods to your goals. Contact us today for a confidential evaluation.