Search Words

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

More on Thoughts

I very much appreciate Ioan's comment on the previous post and his own struggle with thoughts.  I think this underlines the connection between addiction and mental illness, which share many of the same characteristics.  The question becomes: is addiction a mental illness?

My own sense is that addiction manifests as a type of mental illness, but it is not the same as having an organic mental illness such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder.  The reason I say this is that the organic component of addiction (i.e. the change in brain chemistry and operation) only take place after the behavior has been in place over a period of time.

This is also witnessed by the medical communities limited effectiveness in treating addiction without 12 Steps.  Even a treatment center with the latest anti-anxiety medications and trained counselors will still encourage discharged patients to seek a group.

However, the effects on the mind that addiction exercises is often similar and even indistinguishable.  This makes treatment difficult when someone becomes addicted while using chemicals to self-medicate mental illness.  This is why we would be foolish to kick medical professionals out of any treatment program: they have a lot of wonderful insight into the human person and can discern medical problems much better than us 'laymen.'

Some addicts do benefit from pharmacology in the beginning, especially if their minds are severely disrupted by the effects of addiction.  Some addicts experience overwhelming panic attacks, rushing thoughts, confusion, and other problems that medications can help with.  Prescription medication can help with these problems to speed up the recovery process.

Counseling professionals can also aid addicts with severe emotional problems stemming from events either contributing to or occurring within the addiction: trauma, grief, anger management, etc.

This is why the discerning of thoughts and treating their origins is much more important than trying merely to stop the thoughts.  Addiction comes largely from people trying to stop their thoughts, which is why sedatives and depressants are usually popular.

What recovery is about is healing the sources of the thoughts, so that they become healthy.

1 comment:

  1. the noise in an alcoholics head is referred to in the big book of aa as the spiritual malady. It concerns basically two things, fears and resentments and it has two basic messages, I'm always right and I'm never worthy.