Changing Abuse Habits
So if drugs and alcohol are bad for you, and you want to stop, why is it so hard? Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse explains,
“Understanding the biology of how we develop routines that may be harmful to us, and how to break those routines and embrace new ones, could help us change our lifestyles and adopt healthier behaviors.When behaviors become automatic, it gives us an advantage, because the brain does not have to use conscious thought to perform the activity.”
Habits can develop when enjoyable events trigger the brain’s ‘rewards’ centers such as overeating, smoking, gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, and even compulsive use of the computer.
These enjoyable habits (even if they are harmful to your health) release a chemical in your brain called dopamine. The more you indulge in these habits, the greater the dopamine response – and when you’re not indulging, the lack of dopamine creates the craving to do it again and again.
However, there is hope, according to Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University. He says, “Humans are much better than any other animal at changing and orienting our behavior toward long-term goals, or long-term benefits.”
Dr. Baumeister’s research shows that participating in several different self-control exercises, will over time, make you stronger. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ plan to conquer addiction. Dr. Baumeister explains that one approach to overcoming addiction is by becoming more aware of your unhealthy habits and developing strategies to over come them. For example, avoid places and people associated with your previous drug abuse. Another suggestion is to mentally picture how you would say no to addictive behaviors or tempting situations.
Prevent Drug Abuse to Reduce Overdose Deaths
Practicing these good behaviors over the bad, and replacing bad habits with more constructive habits can help you overcome addiction. It takes time to overcome a bad habit even if you replace it with a good habit; this is because both habits remain in the brain and it takes time to suppress the old, bad habit.
Cory Monteith had a history of substance abuse, and did receive therapy back in April in an attempt to overcome his addictions. As Dr. Baumeister’s research shows, it takes time to suppress the old, bad habits with good habits. It takes mental practicing and generally a variety of methods and tactics to overcome addiction. If Mr. Monteith did, indeed die of a drug overdose, substance abuse habits have claimed another victim in 2013.
BBC News. Glee Star Cory Monteith dies in Canadian Hotel. (2013). Accessed July 14, 2013.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug Overdose in the United States: Fact Sheet. (2013). Accessed July 14, 2013.
National Institutes of Health. Breaking Bad Habits. (2012). Accessed July 14, 2013.
World Health Organization. Substance Abuse. July 14, 2013.
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