We all remember the “Just Say No” ad campaign from a few decades ago. The slogan seems to indicate that it should be easy for anyone to turn down drugs or alcohol simply by using their willpower. However, in real life, the answer isn’t as black and white.
If you have a loved one with a substance dependency, you may have heard them pledge to quit using their drug of choice, only to see them relapse into unhealthy habits a few weeks or months later. You’re probably wondering what makes it so challenging for them to stop misusing drugs, particularly since you have witnessed firsthand how negatively their drug habit is affecting their quality of life.
To help you understand why people can’t just walk away from a dangerous drug habit, let’s consider the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is powerful enough to change brain chemistry and trigger a long-term dependency on drug and alcohol use.
What Is Dopamine?
Dopamine is responsible for controlling the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. When highly addictive drugs like opioids enter someone’s body, the brain releases a flood of dopamine, creating intense feelings of fulfillment that make drugs progressively difficult to resist.
As someone becomes addicted to drugs, they also develop vivid memories linking drug use with that satisfying feeling. Even people who have vowed to quit using drugs and have remained sober for a long time still remember the sense of gratification that came with using their drug of choice, which can trigger cravings and an eventual relapse. Essentially, drug use changes the brain.
Now that you know more about the connection between dopamine and addictive behavior, you can see why it can be such an uphill battle for people suffering from substance use disorder to “just say no.” If you have a loved one with a substance dependency, you should view addiction as a disease, rather than a lifestyle choice.
Achieving Freedom From Substance Use Disorder at Canyon Crossing
Though successfully recovering from substance misuse is difficult, it is never out of reach. At Canyon Crossing, we believe no woman with addiction should have to fight her battles alone. With our effective, women-only addiction treatment programs, our caring professionals provide the support our clients need to get back on their feet and reestablish healthy, happy lives free of the burden of substance misuse. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one.