One of the hardest parts of living with addiction is trying to wrap our brains around why we would continue to self-destruct, essentially ruining our lives, even after we’ve experienced such painful consequences. We’ve already hurt ourselves many times over. Why would we continuously return to drugs, knowing how harmful they are? Aside from our unhealed pain and our subconscious lack of self-worth, part of the answer lies in how these drugs are functioning to impact our brain chemistry and literally alter our minds.
The drugs we form addictions to are artificial stimulants that produce many of the same chemicals that our brains do naturally, but they pump excessive amounts of the artificially formed chemicals into us, causing effects our bodies would not normally create. Our minds, and therefore our thought patterns, are strongly impacted. One mental change we experience is the lowering of our inhibitions. Where we might have otherwise been reserved or shy, drugs can make us feel confident, self-assured, even aggressive. We often enjoy these new, exciting effects because the alternative would mean having to confront our insecurity and address why we’re so uncomfortable around other people, in relationships, interacting with other people, and in social settings. We would have to examine our fears, many of which we’re using drugs to avoid thinking about, including our fears of inadequacy, inferiority and unworthiness. When our inhibitions are lowered, we take more chances. We risk putting ourselves out there. We talk to that good-looking stranger we might have been too shy to approach normally. We date freely rather than having the reservations and hang-ups that we usually do. We’re more confident and self-assured at work. We make strides in our careers. We express ourselves more easily. We hit the stage rather than letting our fear keep us on the sidelines.
When our inhibitions are lowered and we start taking more chances, some of those chances are with our health, our safety and our well-being. We’re not acting from a place of clarity or sound judgment. Our thinking is twisted, our judgment is clouded, and our instincts are not intact, especially our instincts for self-preservation and protection. We drive drunk. We go home with strangers. Our intuition and our instincts that would normally alert us to potential danger are being dulled by the drugs we’re on. In addition, our memory can become impaired, causing us to forget entire events that transpired, leaving us with feelings of fear, sadness and regret. We feel overwhelmed and confused. We know we’ve endangered ourselves but don’t know how exactly.
The choices we make while on drugs are not entirely ours. Our brain chemistry is so severely impacted by the drugs we’re taking that our thinking, our instincts, our inhibitions and our memory all become tainted.
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