Over the years I have seen parents or spouses who feel somehow responsible for the substance abuse of their loved one. I always make it a point to be very direct with them about these feelings: “It’s not your fault.” I look them in the eye and say that is a calming and reassuring a voice as I can manage. Many times, especially from mothers, tears instantly form.
Problematic substance use nearly always develops form one or more of the following:
- Low levels of certain brain chemicals have for decades now been identified by scientists as the ‘driver’ for addiction to substances. That is because the substances cause the brain to produce an abundance of the normally low-level chemicals. Terms like “Hypodopamegenic” have entered the lexicon of the medical community that works with those seeking help. The # 1 reason to be Hypodopamegenic? Genetics.
- Extreme or repetitive traumas can cause the brain to become depleted of hormones the brain uses to help us feel balanced, substances can provide the brain with a ‘quick fix’ that just as quickly can become a daily solution, then a nightmare.
- Overexposure to substances. Especially in European countries where alcohol is consumed at all times, dependence can form because the brain becomes too used to the substances and the stimulation cycle of brain chemistry that results.
- Mental Health challenges, these too can cause brain chemistry problems that result in seeking outside substances to correct the problem.
Looking over the list you might have noticed that brain chemistry/hormones are the one universal common feature. If you are a parent or spouse of someone who is addicted, how could you have possibly control of someone else’s brain chemistry?
Written by – Michael O’Neal – Clinical Coordinator