In every walk of life, you can find someone impacted by addiction. Its in our churches, our homes, our schools. We all know that alcohol and drug problems exist.
But why? What is it about these substances that has created such a huge problem?
This week, I have been searching for how to better help friends that are struggling. I can’t do it- they have to take that first step and it hasn’t happened yet.
Alcohol is not the problem. Pills are not the problem. WE are the problem.
We want to feel good. When we don’t, our reward system kicks into overdrive and pushes us to find SOMETHING that will make us feel good. There are many things we do that are helpful and harmless. Listening to music, exercise, sleep. These are positive ways we cope with ourselves.
If you grew up like me, you chose a different coping tool. Society says there is nothing wrong with grabbing a beer or glass of wine when you are stressed. If you don’t “feel good,” if your head is not in the right place, grab a drink and relax. Take a Xanax and relax. Its bothering me to even write that!
Using alcohol or drugs( in any form) to make ourselves feel better is a terrible idea. These substances interact with the brain chemistry, releasing excess dopamine- this is why feel better. How does this cause trouble? If it works once, we all will tend to do it again. We will do it until the substance highjacks the reward system in our brain. Then – we HAVE to feel better this way…
Alcohol is a society approved highjacker. Blaming the problem on anxiety and stress, we drink more and more. Suddenly we find ourselves in a mess of illness, family problems and addiction.
According to medical research:
Many substances that relay signals among neurons (i.e., neurotransmitters) are affected by alcohol. Among these, dopamine has received special attention, because several studies have found that alcohol stimulates the activity of a subset of dopamine-releasing neurons… ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826820/)
Dopamine and serotonin have long been associated with “hardcore” drugs like heroin. Heroin is considered the most addictive, because of its highest impact on dopamine. I would venture to say, alcohol may be one of the most dangerous.
Why alcohol? Because it is society approved. I know people whose lives were highjacked not by heroin, but by alcohol. Even with that said- remember that WE are the real problem.
If you are experiencing life changes, events that you cannot handle, or stress beyond the norm- you do not have to cope alone! Instead of reaching for a negative coping strategy or a drink, reach for your phone! If we are the real problem,
We are also the solution!
Community, support, fellowship- this is how we need to fight our battles. Together.