How Drug and Alcohol Addiction Affects the Mind and Body

Trading our Higher Power for a Chemical

Chemical addiction, from a biological perspective, includes the brain circuits involved in personal survival. These circuits are ‘hijacked’ by these chemicals and like a cancer spread to include vital circuits that deal with every aspect of survival and eventually overwhelm all other considerations. From a ‘Wholeness’ perspective these crippled circuits habitually affect nearly all aspects of a person’s life. Each relationship including friends, family, work, body, mind and spiritual source all are affected to the point that it is ‘fed’ and reinforced by everyone involved no matter how well intentioned. For example, if your spouse tells you to stop drinking…it makes you feel bad so you get a drink. If your spouse says...’This is your problem’…you feel lonely so...you get a drink, etc. You get the idea. From a ‘Oneness’ perspective the drug or alcohol has affected the brain circuits that allow a person to sense their relationship with their spiritual source. When addicted, the mind’s ability to feel the love and guidance your spiritual source offers is impaired, leaving the person, their friends and family on a perilous course.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction: A Loss of Trust

From a ‘Oneness’ perspective there is a failure in the ability to sense and be guided by a person’s  'Golden Rule'. When addicted, the ‘Golden Rule’ is slowly transformed to, ‘Do unto others before they do unto you’ as they no longer are able to understand the compassion others may still have for them. Without a sense of compassion or empathy, previously healthy connections with others becomes abusive. Even when the addicted person invests tremendous resources in a relationship or project, simple errors in judgment can lead to serious mistakes which leads to a feeling that ‘now everyone knows.’ As they no longer follow the ‘golden rule’ they are increasingly not trusted...until they get help. Even then restored trust must be earned.

Trading our Loved Ones for a Chemical

From a neurological perspective the Nucleus Accumbens seems to be most involved. It is the major dopaminergic center in the brain that guides nearly all desire and motivation. For something to be addictive it needs to ‘break into’ these circuits and take over. This center modulates nearly all aspects of our brain and therefore has influence on our thought centers. It also influences our feeling centers, our body movements and even the highest brain centers that guide us spiritually. This may explain the term ‘spiritually bankrupt’ that often follows the person with addiction. These affected highest brain centers are also the centers that allow a person to feel love and to project their loving feelings to others. When family and friends try to help, their love becomes food for manipulative ways to continue the addiction. When the time comes to show friends and family a commitment, and alcohol or drugs call, (as drugs and alcohol own the Nucleus Accumbens) drugs and alcohol win.

Our Body Hijacked!

Every other center of the brain is subsequently hijacked. The thought areas of the brain are unable to correctly assess the consequences, hence the term ‘stinking thinking.’ With drug and alcohol addiction, the emotional areas of the brain have a person ‘jonesing’ or ‘craving’ for more of the addictive chemical and the life that comes with it. All of these brain areas modulate every cell in the human body. When addicted, every cell of the body has stopped working for the individual and is on the hunt for ways to continue on this destructive path.

From a ‘Wholeness’ perspective, the addictive substance has disrupted connections within the body and between the person and their world. Our bodies are like a fine tuned Maserati. Very powerful forces work within us each day to wake up in the morning refreshed, maintain energy stores, digest our food, protect us from cancer and infection and move about smoothly. When someone is addicted, they wake in the morning feeling tired, struggle to concentrate, may be unable to sleep, have little energy, and increasingly appear old and emotionally constipated.

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