The stigma surrounding addiction in our society is a result of many generations of misinformation. If you are addicted to illegal drugs, you are likely to be judged for letting your drug use get out of control and for ever having tried drugs in the first place. If you are addicted to alcohol, you are likely to be judged for not being “strong” enough to toe the line of moderation. This kind of thinking simply doesn’t make sense, as substance abuse has been wired into your brain in a way that makes it impossible to quit without help. There is no sense in feeling any more guilty about your urge to use your drug of choice than there is about your urge to breathe.

In order to understand why addiction is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw, you must first understand a little bit about the human brain. Our brains are biologically wired in a way that encourages us to seek reward. In order to reinforce behavior that helps us survive, such as eating or drinking water, our brains release endorphins when we anticipate these activities. For example, when you are hungry you are likely to feel a rush of endorphins as you watch your plate of food coming towards you in a restaurant. Even though you haven’t yet satisfied your hunger, your brain is rewarding you for seeking out what it needs.

Substances like drugs and alcohol cause your brain to release endorphins artificially, and with time, new neural pathways form that teach your brain to repeat those behaviors in order to receive those same endorphins. The first time you used drugs or alcohol, you surely believed you could control and moderate your use. This is especially true in the case of alcohol, where cultural norms and the media tell you constantly that moderate drinking is “normal.” But for those of us with especially efficient endorphin reward systems, we began teaching our brains that we needed that substance from the first moment we tried it. As an addict or a person in recovery, it is sometimes easy to believe that you are a bad or weak person. You are not.

At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms. The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan. We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.

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