Have you ever seen that television commercial from years ago that showed what your brain looks like on drugs? You know the one where the eggs are sizzling in the frying pan?
Isn’t it just crazy to think that so many people in the world know what drugs do to their brain, but they still try it?
In fact, in the US, the substance abuse facts show us that more than 23 million individuals from age 12 and up suffer from a type of substance abuse disorder. These statistics cover several substances, including cocaine, alcohol, and prescription medications. These substances affect people across all genders, races, and economic backgrounds.
Here are a couple of stats for a quick read:
- Only 10% of Americans dealing with addiction receive treatment.
- 8% of young adults struggle with at least one form of substance use disorder.
- Meth is currently used by approximately 897,000 teenagers and adults in America.
- Approximately 5 million Americans regularly use cocaine.
- Approximately 16% of men in America smoke cigarettes.
Not everyone who uses a drug develops an addiction. That may be one of the reasons why some people think drug addiction is the result of weakness. However, it is a chronic disease that causes long-term changes to the brain. Research has shown that there is no single factor that causes drug addiction. However, there are certain risk factors which some people more prone than others. The more risk factors an individual has, the more likely it is that taking drugs will lead to addiction. The TOP risk factors include childhood trauma, drug use from an early age, family history with vulnerable genetics, kids who grow up in abusive homes or in communities with high addiction, peer pressure from social groups, mental health disorders like depression, PTSD or ADD and those who have injuries or illnesses that are prescribed pain medication. However, being more at risk for drug addiction does not guarantee that an individual will use drugs or become addicted. There are several protective factors which can reduce the risk like good self-control, positive relationships, and a strong support system. Let’s look at some of the risk factors:
When my son was just in the eighth grade, he was given a caramel laced with drugs. After I picked him up from school I knew something was seriously wrong. I sat and held him and cried while he hallucinated and went through his first drug “high.” He swore after that he would never do drugs again. He kept that promise until his junior year after he had his wisdom teeth out and was given prescription pain pills. Because he felt so good taking them he continued to finish the bottle. That was the beginning of the HARD road ahead. His senior year he spiraled downward and right before he was supposed to graduate we had to ask him to leave the house for various reasons. I rarely ever heard from him and didn’t see him for several months as he got deeper into hard drug use. It was the hardest few months of my life I’ve ever been through. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody!
I have experienced living with a loved one’s addiction.
It can be one of the most horrifying experiences anyone can ever go through. The feelings of frustration, sadness, anger, and helplessness can be overwhelming as you watch someone transform before your eyes into an entirely different person. There are few things more devastating than having a front row view of an active addiction.
Addiction is best described as an OBSESSION of the mind.
When someone is addicted, their thinking and behavior revolves completely around the addiction: how will they get more, how relieved they will feel when they get their fix, how much more will they need the next time around to avoid becoming “dope sick.” An addict’s thoughts become laser-focused on their need for drugs to survive, which overpowers any logic or reasoning.
Addiction becomes a pathological form of learning. It’s a disease characterized by compulsive repetition of an activity despite life-altering consequences. When a person is addicted, the primitive survival part of the brain is in the driver’s seat. The primitive limbic system seeks drugs at any price, and the rational, caring, empathetic prefrontal cortex is silenced. The addicted person’s most basic need to survive drives the need for mood or mind-altering substances at any price, and that includes lying to anyone who stands in the way of the drugs they so desperately seek.
The addict brain is telling the body that it’s going to die, so it does everything necessary to appease the fear and desperation. Even knowing that, it’s scary to watch an addict lie right to your face so convincingly that you start to believe them and question your own perception of the situation.
Here are some helpful tools I learned while helping my own son recover from a drug addiction.
1.Creating a “HUMAN PARK”
American psychologist, Dr Bruce Alexander, helped us understand that drug addiction isn’t just about the drug, it’s also about having a social community. Researchers had already proved that when rats were placed in a cage, all alone, with no other community of rats, and offered two water bottles-one filled with water and the other with heroin or cocaine-the rats would repetitively drink from the drug-laced bottles until they all overdosed and died. Like pigeons pressing a pleasure lever, they were relentless, until their bodies and brains were overcome, and they died.
But Alexander wondered: is this about the drug or might it be related to the setting they were in? To test his hypothesis, he put rats in “rat parks,” where they were among others and free to roam and play, to socialize and to have sex. And they were given the same access to the same two types of drug laced bottles. When inhabiting a “rat park,” they remarkably preferred the plain water. Even when they did imbibe from the drug-filled bottle, they did so intermittently, not obsessively, and never overdosed. A social community beat the power of drugs.
- ESSENTIAL OILS AND SOC PROTOCOL. Essential oils can give emotional support during withdrawal of many types of addictions.
Essential Oils & Recipes for Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
- Lavender Oil. Helps manage the anxious feelings and psychological stresses related to recovering from alcoholism. The oil is great for relieving conditions such as hypersensitivity and insomnia related to alcohol withdrawal.
Add 3-5 drops of Lavender or Lemon oil to a diffuser for stress and anxiety relief. Or, pour a few drops of each of these onto a tissue or handkerchief and breathe deeply.
- Lemon Oil. High in limonene, it has a positive effect on alleviating sad feelings and supporting the immune system. Lemon oil helps initiate the gentle detoxification of the liver and kidneys, and helps re-balance the pH level in the blood and reduce dehydration caused by alcohol.
Mix 2-4 drops of lemon, black pepper or lavender oil with one tablespoon of a carrier oil. Gently massage the blend on the neck region, temples, chest, and the bottoms of the feet. Repeat these two to three times a day to help calm the nervous system and for relief from withdrawal symptoms.
- Black Pepper Oil. Helps reduce cravings in most addictions, and effectively relieves withdrawal symptoms like anxious feelings and stress. The oil contains powerful antioxidants that boost oxygenation in the body, helping prevent dehydration of cells. It boosts serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain.
Add 1 -2 drops of black pepper or lemon oils to a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of raw honey. Sip this relaxing tonic two times a day to boost the immune system and relieve stress and anxiety
Essential Oils & Recipes for Substance Withdrawal Symptoms
- Clary Sage Oil. Effective in alleviating mental fatigue and anxious feelings. It calms the nervous system and relieves back pain, headaches, and muscle cramps.
Mix a few drops with a carrier oil and apply to areas where pain relief is needed. Alternatively, diffuse 3 or 4 drops in a room diffuser to reduce stress or negative thoughts.
- Peppermint Oil. Relieves headaches and an upset stomach, making it highly effective for managing the withdrawal symptoms of hard substance abuse. It provides relief from painful emotions, supports healthy digestion, invigorates the body, boosts alertness and relieves inflammation.
Place a few drops of oil into a diffuser to boost energy and stimulate the senses or rub onto the palms and inhale directly. It will help clear airways and promote healthy respiratory function.
- Rosemary Oil. Boosts self-confidence, alleviates stress or anxious feelings, helps manage substance addiction withdrawal symptoms, improves concentration and memory, relieves pain and stiffness in the joints and relieves stomach cramps.
Essential Oils & Recipes for Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
- Black Pepper Oil. Widely regarded as the most effective essential oil for withdrawal symptoms when quitting smoking. The oil helps alleviate anxious feelings.
- Lavender, Bergamot, and Chamomile Oils. Essential oils for smoking cessation, withdrawal symptoms and to help alleviate irritability are effective when they are applied topically and aromatically in a diffuser.
- Ylang-Ylang Oil. Assists to curb nicotine cravings an individual would experience during the night. When dabbed on a cotton square and placed on pillowcases, the oil can help reduce these cravings.
- Smoking Cessation Blend: Mix 5 drops each of Wild Orange, Clove, Helichrysum, Roman Chamomile, and 10 drops each of Marjoram and Lavender, and 15 drops Grapefruit. Diffusing this blend will effectively reduce cravings, calming the nerves, refreshing the body, and balance the mood.
Symphony of the Cells Forgiveness Protocol. Powerful and effective essential oil application techniques developed by Boyd Truman that focuses “on the specific system of the body and targeting the symptoms and underlying causes of many ailments and illnesses.” When applied correctly, therapeutic-grade essential oil healing applications can promote wellness and help to re-establish a state of homeostasis in the body and within the specific body systems they are affecting. Additionally, high quality essential oil healing applications have the potential to “advance a person’s wellness quickly and profoundly.”
- Ketamine Treatment. Ketamine was once used mainly as an anesthetic on battlefields and in operating rooms. Now this medication is gaining ground as a promising treatment for some cases of major depression. It is given in a small dose either through and IV or a shot. If a person responds to ketamine, it can rapidly reduce life-threatening thoughts and relieve other serious symptoms of depression.
- Specialized Therapy. There are specialized therapies that are being implemented more and more that offer an array of benefits for helping loved ones who are in need of emotional healing. Some of the ones I have used personally for myself or my son that I have found to be much more effective than just talk therapy alone include: EMDR Therapy, Horse Therapy, ART therapy and Music Therapy. Utilizing therapies that fit more with your loved one’s personality and finding therapists who are trained in these specialized therapies can help your loved one find more success in their healing.
- Love Them. Learn new skills to help reinforce community and family support. Refer to CRAFT: community reinforcement and family training at www. myusara.com. Begin the 31 Days of Connection to help connect with God, Self and Others at https://bit.ly/3ichFSi.
Mother Theresa said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
The individuals and families that consistently keep their emotional heads above the often-roiling waters of everyday life are the ones that are connecting with others. They have relationships, (“human parks”) to help lead, guide and love them. Connection is the key to surviving and thriving. I am here today to tell you that there is HOPE!! After all that my son went through, it was through utilizing these tools that got him the help he needed to lead to his road to recovery. Applying several of these methods immediately was the key and believing that he would come back to me so I could see him and show my love for him again was critical to my well-being. If you have a loved one struggling, don’t wait until they hit rock bottom. Go home, connect with them and LOVE them! I promise you won’t regret it.