Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention

The life cycle of addiction begins with a problem, discomfort or some form of emotional or physical pain a person is experiencing.

The person finds this very difficult to deal with. Like most people in society, they are a good person. They have encountered a problem or discomfort that they do not have the ability to resolve.

This could include emotional problems such as difficulty “fitting in” as a child or teenager, anxiety due to peer pressure, identity problems or divorce as an adult. It could also include physical discomfort, such as a bad back or some kind of disease.

The person experiencing the discomfort has a real problem.

They feel this problem is a major situation that persists and they can see no immediate relief in sight. We have all experienced some sort of discomfort in our lives at one point or another.

The difference between the one who becomes addicted and the one who does not, depends on the degree of the traumatic experience, and if they are prone to pro-drug or alcohol influences.

Substance Abuse Takes The Pain Away – Prevention

The painkilling effects of drugs or alcohol become a solution to the discomfort, because the person experiences relief from the negative feeling associated with the problem.

As soon as a person experiences relief from the discomfort, they automatically attach value to the drug or drink, because it helped them feel better.

Even though the relief is only temporary, it is viewed as a solution to the problem. At this point, it is just a matter of time before the person becomes fully addicted and loses the ability to control their drug and alcohol use.

Relapse After Rehab

Once a drug addict or alcoholic has been through treatment, there are three main reasons for relapse:

These negative behaviors can haunt someone for years after they have sobered up. And more times than not, if left untreated, will trigger a relapse.

These unresolved symptoms, whether physical or mental in origin, create an underlying, low-level type of stress, which cannot be completely ignored by the addict.

The addict can ovoid the drug or drink a thousand times, but it only takes them saying “yes” one time to start the cycle of addiction again.

Mental And Physical Cravings

The first barrier to successful recovery from substance abuse is overcoming the mental and physical cravings for the drug of choice. Drugs and alcohol are broken down and filtered in the liver.

There is a byproduct from this detoxification process called a metabolite.These protein-based metabolites can and do find their way into the person’s body fat.

Keep in mind that each time anyone has ever used drugs or alcohol; they have a complete recorded memory of that life experience.

Whether good times or bad, happy or sad, all emotions, feelings and sensations that were present at the time of drug or alcohol use, is filed away in the person’s memory.

Even if a person is in a blackout, the experience is still recorded in the mind. So each metabolite is connected to a memory of the life experience related in some way to the drug and alcohol use.

The body will metabolize and burn fat any time a person undergoes a life experience that causes the heart rate to speed up. Stress can do this, as well as exercise workouts or intense emotion. We all experience these things on a fairly regular basis.

When an addict experiences these life situations and their heart rate speeds up, the body begins to mobilize and burn fat. The fat contains toxins or metabolites from past alcohol and drug use. As the fat cell burns, it releases the metabolite back into the person’s blood stream.

Thoughts Can Be A Trigger

The metabolite is a byproduct of the drugs and alcohol. That metabolite is connected to the memory of the life experience in which the drug or alcohol was taken.

The toxin finds its way back into the blood stream and acts as both a physical and mental reminder of the drug or alcohol consumption. It also acts as a reminder of the emotional effect the person experienced after consumption.

In short, the toxin re-enters the blood and triggers or stimulates a physical reminder of the drug or alcohol and the memory of feelings, thoughts, sensations and emotions connected to that experience.

The person remembers feeling and thinking like they did in the past when they were under the influence and so are prone to relapse at these times.

The reactive compulsion to continue to use drugs or alcohol is, in part, caused by the drug’s interaction with the body’s natural chemistry. Some of the body’s natural chemicals act as a built-in reward system that encourages us to eat, exercise and procreate.

As The Addiction Progresses

As a person’s addiction progresses, the brain and body identify the drug as an aid that either enhance the release of or replace natural chemicals. The brain gets fooled as it has identified the drug or drink as these aids.

This is what causes the uncontrolled compulsion an addict feels to continue to use.

This compulsion is so strong within the individual that the desire to use more drugs or drink overrides the negative and often times life-threatening consequences.

Guilt & Addiction

Guilt is another component in the life cycle of addiction. Most addicts are good people. All have some sense of right and wrong with no intention of hurting others.

As they become dependent on the chemical, they begin experiencing situations where they are doing and saying things they know deep down aren’t right. They begin to lose their ability to control themselves.

They become trapped in a vicious circle of using drugs and alcohol, lying about it, stealing to support their addiction, and in the mean time, the addict is accumulating memories of these negative incidents.

When an addict commits a negative action, they record a memory of that moment, which also includes anyone they were with at the time. The addict knows these negative actions are wrong and feels bad about them.

These memories of guilt can then get triggered in the present or future when they see the people and places that were involved when the negative behaviors were committed.

Family & Friends Can Be A Trigger

Just the sight of people, family and friend’s can trigger the guilt. They don’t even have to say a word to the addict. To avoid these unpleasant guilt feelings, the addict will use more drugs and alcohol to insulate him or herself from the guilt.

The addict will also begin to withdraw more and more from friends and family as the negative behaviors increase. They will eventually pull away from the family, isolate themselves and may even become hostile towards those they love.


Depression is another obstacle to successful recovery. The depression an addict experiences is two fold. There is a chemical imbalance that drug and alcohol abuse creates in the body. Drug and alcohol abuse inhibits the production of natural body chemicals, and in some cases replaces them.

This impacts the natural reward system that encourages our physical well-being or eliminates pain after an injury. In most cases the emotional depression that an addict experiences comes after usage, not before.

Getting Honest

In order to remove these barriers to successfully recovery, addicts must experience a positive change in moral values. They must get honest-which is probably the toughest part of recovery. As a general rule people do not enjoy admitting their wrongs.

This process is particularly difficult for the person who is addicted.

If an addicted person can admit their character defects, and be honest about their destructive behaviors, they will experience tremendous relief. They will not feel guilty any longer and will be able to start the recovery process and improve their quality of life.

Counseling And Self-Help – Prevention

There are different methods utilized in substance abuse counseling to bring about positive moral change in an addict. Probably one of the most commonly used is the 12 Step approach practiced by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups.

In this method, steps 4 and 5 suggest taking a moral inventory and admitting to God, themselves and another human being the exact nature of their wrongs.

Steps 8 and 9 deal with taking a life inventory of people they have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.

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