HITTING BOTTOM, THE MYTH: HOW DUAL DISORDERS HIJACK THE BRAIN
“When you think you’ve hit bottom, the disease hands you a shovel and says DIG DEEPER!” Insight is lost. Loss of control over one’s own actions is the hallmark symptom of addiction and dual disorders. Wanting and intending to quit or cutback on using, but instead rationalizing “just one more” becomes the humiliating norm . . . wanting to change but being unable to follow through. Incomprehensible demoralization of the soul is the result.
ASAM defines addiction as a dysfunction of the reward circuitry of the brain. The sufferer cannot change on their own volition. The concept of “hitting bottom” implies learning from one’s mistakes. Addicts and people with dual disorders have a very hard time learning from their mistakes. Their brains no longer work that way.
Waiting for the suffering addict or mentally ill person to “hit bottom” means waiting for something that may never happen.
What does treatment do?
Treatment “brings the bottom up to the suffering person.” In other words, treatment helps a person to begin having insight into their disease, identify consequences and once again begin to learn from their mistakes. Something about mutual-help groups that opens up the mind to the possibility of another way. Also, the ability to learn from the mistakes of others begins to happen.
Whether the problem is alcohol, prescription medications or street drugs, most people who attempt recovery end up relapsing.
Ever been mesmerized when looking at something? Pre-occupied with hunger, unable to focus on anything but your empty stomach? Stuck in your thoughts about the loss of a love? Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is like that, it “hijacks” the reward center of the brain. Think of it this way, eating a meal or being with someone you love feels good, right? Well, just imagine that good feeling. Now multiply it times 10 . . . now times 100. Imagine how pleasurable that would feel. That’s what using or drinking can feel like to an addicted person. The pursuit of that pleasure becomes all-consuming.
Certain brain connections become supercharged with dopamine, while the connection between judgement and drive becomes much weaker
The reasonable part of the brain (executive) is overpowered by the drive for pleasure (mid-brain). As addiction takes hold, the executive part of the brain begins to serve the drive for the super-pleasure, provided by the substance. The skills of rationalizing, justifying and excuse-making are developed and perfected.
Trying to quit FEELS like being deprived of food or ending a relationship. Most people relapse. The pursuit of super-pleasure is all-consuming. The brain has changed. In this way, dual-disorders take over. Intention and will become irrelevant to the enslaved. Living is reduced to an animal level.
However, normal brain-function can be restored over time. With rigorous treatment, diligent follow-up and monitoring lasting recovery is possible. BoardPrep Recovery Center personalizes treatment plans to the individual, restoring the brain-function necessary for lifelong sobriety.