Chasing the Dragon (Part 2)

  • By 7016369785
  • 20 Jul, 2017

by Mary Pollock, MA, LPC, CCDP, NCC, MAC, DCORT

Chasing the Dragon (Part 2)

Addiction is a brain disease. Many people have difficulty separating the person from the disease. We cannot see inside our loved one’s brain to see that there is something wrong. Instead, what we see are the behaviors that develop over time which support the addiction. These behaviors are what cause relationship issues within a family. Personality change, irresponsible decision making, secrecy, not coming home on time, missing important events, absenteeism, and job loss and emotional instability are a few of the observable signs that the addiction is present. The addicted individual becomes unable to respond to his environment in a healthy, adaptive manner as the addiction takes over the brain.

Early use attacks the brain on a level that provides a feeling of extreme pleasure and satisfaction as it inserts itself into the reward centers of the brain. Many addicted will say that they had never felt better in their life. Because of their genetic and biological susceptibility, this euphoria is intense and consuming. Once it wears off, the desire to seek that feeling again leads to a repeat of the behavior. The problem is, they can never reach that place again. This is not always immediately evident and the individual will continue to try to reach that same level of pleasure, repeatedly. Eventually, with repeated use, the body “improves” its ability to detoxify the substance. This leads to higher and higher tolerance of the substance, meaning it takes more to get an effect. Eventually, the brain and the body believe that the substance is necessary to survival.

Our reward, or pleasure centers have a purpose in maintaining the survival of our species. The reward center is stimulated when we eat, drink, have sex, and participate in exercise. All of these behaviors are necessary to keep us alive and thriving. The reward center assures that we want to repeat these behaviors. However, the use of a substance like alcohol or opiates overtakes the reward system, delivering a more intense feeling of pleasure than the other natural materials like food and water. It therefore becomes the behavior to be repeated. This leads to the obsession to use and the compulsion to use.

While the chemical is overwhelming the pleasure center, it is also eliminating natural neurotransmitters which in turn eliminate receptors for those neurotransmitters. Hence, when the person tries to stop, they become extremely uncomfortable, sad, depressed and unmotivated. There is no reward for not using the substance.

Thus, the person we care about becomes consumed by the addiction. They no longer seem to be the caring, responsible person they once were. They resort to behaviors that we do not expect from them, as they become even more focused on chasing the dragon that they can never catch again.

Chasing the dragon

Community Counseling Center Blog | Hermitage, PA

By 7016369785 09 Aug, 2017

To help an addict recover from addiction, Mark Britton believes you have to listen to the addict. He’s speaking from experience.

“Not only do I work in recovery, but I’m active in recovery,” he explained. He works as a certified peer specialist in the field, while celebrating nine years clean and sober himself.

What does he believe loved ones should hear from addicts?

“We do not plan to fail. I do not wake up every morning and say, ‘I’m going to fail,” he said. “I do however fail to plan.”

By 7016369785 08 Aug, 2017

Gateway Rehab's mission is to help all affected by addictive diseases to become healthy in body, mind and spirit. A key word in our mission is the word "all." We're not just about the recovering addict or alcoholic, but everyone involved in the processes of recovery: friends, family, therapists, counselors, the public in general, and others touched in some way by addiction.

To help connect those affected by addiction, Gateway Rehab is excited to announce the launching of The Roads to Recovery , a blog that will provide hope, inspiration, motivation, education and other insights about the world of addiction.

Our first blog entry focuses on the lifelong process of addiction. Future posts will help inspire and motivate those in recovery, as well as educate and inform others about addiction treatment and further aspects of the addiction industry. Additionally, there will be frequent posts featuring our founder, Dr. Abraham Twerski.

We invite you to connect with The Roads to Recovery by visiting www.gatewayrehab.org/blog . Our hope is that we provide an impactful account of the many roads to recovery. 


GET HELP NOW. CALL 800-472-1177

Click here to find a location near you


By 7016369785 27 Jul, 2017

Preparing to go to college involves many things to consider, including living arrangements, transportation, finances, managing class loads, and managing healthcare using the resources at your chosen college. As a college student, it’s important to understand that good mental health practices can help you maintain your equilibrium during a period of significant growth and change.

The Stamp Out Stigma campaign was launched in 2014 as multiple agencies recognized that stigma about mental health kept people from accessing care. Contrary to common belief, 90 percent of those who seek help for mental health issues are able to greatly reduce their symptoms. Stigma about mental health care for those with or without a specific diagnosis is usually based in misunderstanding and myth. Those false beliefs about mental illness can cause significant problems, including a lack of understanding or support, discrimination, reluctance to get treatment early, or a loss of hope.


Other significant facts at the core of the Stamp Out Stigma campaign include:

   An estimated 26 percent of adults have a diagnosable

   mental illness in a given year; about 21 percent of children

   ages 9 to 17 have a diagnosable mental or addictive illness.

   One in two of us will have a mental health issue during our lifetime.

   Less than one-third of adults with a mental health issue will get help.


Stamp Out Stigma seeks to “reduce the stigma of mental illness and substance use disorders by talking about them.” Conversations are designed to:

   Recognize when you or your loved ones need help. Recognize the signs.

   Recognize when someone isn’t getting the help they need. 

   Recognize when stigma is creating a barrier to care. 

   Recognize the high prevalence of mental illness.


   Reeducate others to help them learn there is help and hope.

   Reeducate yourself and others on mental and emotional health. 

   Reeducate yourself and others to find the path to recovery and

   that it is possible for all.

   Reeducate yourself on resources: What are your current benefits?

   Who can you talk to? What can you do?


   Reduce stigma . Reduce hesitation to seeking care.