Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem

Addiction Training

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About a month ago, I and the other Out of Darkness volunteers had our first training of 2014. Heather Hayes taught on addiction, as the title suggests, and it was really fascinating. Sadly, my notes won’t do it justice, but they’ll give you a good idea of what we talked about.

  • Two arguments in addiction: choice or disease. Heather believes disease. It’s a question of causality.
  • Addiction is a brain disorder.
  • Addicts look like everyone. Recovering people look like everyone.
  • A majority of the people in prison are dealing with at least one addiction.
  • Drugs work in the midbrain, which only deals with what happens right now. It is unconscious, and can override the sensible part of your brain (frontal cortex). Fight or flight, life or death, eat or sleep, sex for procreation/survival — trauma is store here, and it is unstable because it doesn’t deal with rational thought.
  • Drugs trump all other coping mechanisms, to the point of death.
  • Abusers can stop or corral it in, addicts can’t.
  • STRESS is the causal agent in addiction. Stress factors: severity, pattern, coping mechanisms, different brains
  • Addictive people are often very sensitive, softhearted people.
  • Dopamine relieves stress through pleasure. Chronic stress breaks the receptor. Then people can’t discern normal pleasure. It isn’t as great as it once was. Drugs give a surge that’s discernable.
  • Too much natural dopamine is schizophrenic; too little is Parkinson’s.
  • Stress = Craving (can be wild or extreme)
  • Cravings keep the cycle going.
  • Frontal Cortex goes dark during addiction cycles. Rational thought is out the window.
  • People can still function in routines, but it becomes evident once out of a routine.
  • There will never be pills to cure addiction. You can treat symptoms only. You have to re-teach non-chemical coping skills for stress. It takes the brain about a year to get back to base level.
  • There is a heroine epidemic in ATL.
  • About 60% of addicts who are women have eating disorders. Also usual victims of trauma.
  • Usually a lot of crossover between substance abuse and performance abuse. (Ex: sex, food, cults, co-dependence, workaholic, gambling, porn, etc.)
  • Addition is a disregulation of the mid-brain pleasure (dopamine) systems due to unmanaged stress resulting in symptom of decrease functioning, specifically loss of control, craving and persistent use despite negative consequences.
  • 93% of addicts are functional
  • Cutting: a response to emotional pain that is focused. It can have addictive qualities. Trauma recovery must be done. Dissociative personalities are prone to self-mutilation.
  • Signs of addiction: denial, minimizing problems, blaming others, justifications/excuses, defensiveness, mood swings, changes in personality, manipulation, legal problems, financial problems, irritability, loss of pleasure, breaking promises, withdrawn or overly talkative, emotionally unstable, escalating use of chemicals
  • Coping skills: anger management, relaxation, exercise, schedule/routine, meditation, biofeedback, communication skills
  • Most people in recovery and succeeding have a spiritual component.
  • People need to hear they can overcome—and it’s true.
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Author: kristiporter

I’m a creator, leader, writer, Christian, multi-tasker, filmie, foodie, abolitionist, environmentalist, daydreamer, traveler and entrepreneur, to name a few.

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