Habit formation, craving, withdrawal, relapse triggers addiction. On the formation of these conditions, an immediate treatment for addiction becomes very necessary.
In many peoples’ minds addiction is a habit which is very difficult to disassociate yourself with once it settles in your body. There are several factors that supports this description including denial and relapse among many others. Therefore when people make effort of quitting their addictive life styles whether it is drug use or addictive activities, the problem of withdrawal often becomes a great challenge. If you have been there, you will agree with me that withdrawal is such an unpleasant experience that you wouldn’t want to repeat since it serves as a serious influence and a motivator to get back to your old habits. When this finally happens (getting back to your addiction), it becomes much more pleasurable to the victim even as the consequences of addiction sink further. And because of its pleasurable nature, it even becomes more rewarding and therefore it is bound to be repeated again and again. Some drugs, such as alcohol and opiates, have withdrawal effects that are both physical and emotional. Other drugs or addictive activities may primarily involve around emotional symptoms. This characteristic of addiction occurs because of several changes in the brain and for that reason we want to focus our discussion on the habit formation, craving, withdrawal, relapse triggers addiction with the help from doctor Dalal Akoury MD a veteran expert in addiction who is also the founder of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center.
Doctor Akoury explains that as drug use or the addictive activities escalates the involvement of various brain regions associated with our emotional state also increases. Therefore the brain region that is most often associated with our emotional state is the extended amygdala. Experts are of the opinion that, this area of the brain plays an important role in addiction because of its association with emotions and stress. And like we had mentioned previously that addiction and stress are closely related, we are going to be looking at the two progressively as we progressed into the discussion.
Habit formation, craving, withdrawal, relapse triggers addiction: The effects of amygdala on emotions and memories
All of us have memories about various events in our lives which can either be bad or good memories and these memories and emotions can be affected by amygdala. The amygdala affects emotions and memory. These memories can be can be categorized as good or bad depending on the emotional states that happen during those events we are remembering. It is therefore very important to appreciate that these memories are formed from the brain and up on their formation, they are kept still within the brain along with the emotional attachment that occurred during those events. Let’s us an illustration to bring it closer to our understanding take for example when you smell the sea air or feel the ocean breeze and hear the seagulls, you will have a pleasant memory and emotional experience alongside. This is because these things have been repeatedly associated with relaxing and enjoyable times. The memory of the sea is stored along with a pleasant emotional state. It therefore means that you can merely visualize the sea in your mind without necessarily being there and you will experience a pleasant emotional state. In the same way an addicted person may only need to visualize about engaging in his addiction and that will be enough for him to experience pleasure. In that case, the memory of engaging in the addiction is stored with a pleasant emotional state and hence the pleasing memories of engaging with an addiction can lead to repeating those behaviors and eventually forms a habit. This is what we must deal with owing to the enormous consequences that come with the formation of an addiction. When you realize that such experiences are happening in your life, then you must seek for an immediate treatment solution from the experts. Doctor Dalal Akoury a veteran addiction experts and her team of experts at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center can be of great help to you. All you have to do is to call her today to schedule for your appointment and your life will never be the same again.
As we come to the end of this discussion, it is important to note that emotional memory also has another role in the development of addiction known as cue anticipation. Cue anticipation refers to environmental cues that can initiate or elevate craving. Cravings often lead to relapse. For this reason, these cues are often called relapse triggers meaning that, a successful recovery plan will include a strategy for coping with cues (relapse triggers).
These environmental cues (relapse triggers) can be anything that is associated with the addiction. It could be a certain time of day, a place, a person, or an activity. For instance, suppose a man is addicted to pornography use and because of that he usually gets online after his wife goes to bed to satisfy his addiction. The mere act of his wife getting ready to go to bed serves as a cue that prompts powerful cravings. Later, even his own anticipation of his wife going to bed will serve as a powerful cue. The amygdala’s role in emotional memory is responsible for these cues taking root. The brain forms an association between pleasant memories of drug use or addictive activities, and the cues. The more a person repeats this cycle, the more it strengthens the emotional memory circuits associated with these cues. Eventually, this leads to a complete pre-occupation with the addiction.
Finally, so far our discussion has been focusing on the role of amygdala and positive emotional memories. Nonetheless the brain may also form an association between unpleasant emotions and a memory thereby forming a “bad” memory. For your information, these negative emotional memories play an important role in withdrawal. The negative emotional memory of anxiety becomes associated with the physical signs of withdrawal. And as withdrawal begins, the symptoms trigger an unpleasant emotional memory. This increases the negative experience of withdrawal. Withdrawal avoidance (via returning to the addiction) often becomes the cornerstone of the addiction in the later stages. Thus, in the earlier stages of addiction the pleasurable experience of the drug motivates a repetition of that behavior. In the later stages, relief of withdrawal symptoms (physical and/or emotional discomfort) achieves pleasure. This pleasurable relief from withdrawal symptoms continues to motivate the repetition of that behavior. This is a very interesting topic that needs further consultation with the experts. What we have discussed here may not be conclusive and therefore you may want to schedule for an appointment with doctor Dalal Akoury for more health insight about addiction and the brain.