There are two main parts to our brains. One part is the “lizard brain,” which consists of our survival instincts: drinking when we’re thirsty, eating when we’re hungry, our sexual responses, addiction, and our fight, flight or freeze response.
Part of the reason addiction is so hard to beat is because when your stress levels become higher than your threshold, your fight, flight or freeze response will go off. It will cause anxiety and panic attacks, or trauma. That in turn triggers an addict’s need to use.
Understanding to Overcome
A report from Harvard Health Publications states,
“According to the current theory about addiction, dopamine interacts with another neurotransmitter, glutamate, to take over the brain’s system of reward-related learning. This system has an important role in sustaining life because it links activities needed for human survival (such as eating and sex) with pleasure and reward.
“The reward circuit in the brain includes areas involved with motivation and memory as well as with pleasure. Addictive substances and behaviors stimulate the same circuit—and then overload it.
“Repeated exposure to an addictive substance or behavior causes nerve cells in the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain involved in planning and executing tasks) to communicate in a way that couples liking something with wanting it, in turn driving us to go after it. That is, this process motivates us to take action to seek out the source of pleasure.”
There Is Hope!
Nobody intends to develop an addiction. But the only way to overcome addiction is to reprocess and resolve the trauma associated with it. It has to be moved from our “lizard brain” up to our frontal lobes. This is where we do our critical thinking, problem solving, learning, and memory consolidation.
There are different ways in which we deal with and reprocess trauma. One of the ways is by using EMDR: eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. When using EMDR, we are able to properly process the anxiety that brought on the problem and the reasons an addict will use in the first place.
In successfully overcoming addiction, we must first find the root cause of it. We need to identify what triggers us to use. Then, and only then, can we begin to treat addiction. If you have additional questions about triggers and addiction, contact us to learn more.
~ Denise D’Coda, MC, LMFT, LADAC