Mankind has a few basic needs for survival. In fact, man’s brain, specifically the midbrain section, is programmed to dictate operations based on these survival needs: eat, sleep, hunt, reproduce. Among a few others, most of human thought process stems from these needs. When drugs and alcohol, eating disorders, process addictions or other behavioral issues come into the picture, these survival needs change. Disordered thinking quite literally disorders thinking: overtime brain chemistry alters, reprogramming the message of the midbrain to prioritize the substance or behavior in favor. In drugs and alcohol especially, the neurotransmitter dopamine gets hyperstimulated and over produced. Dopamine communicates pleasure to the brain, signaling the brain’s reward center. Neurologically, when dopamine is produced in increasing copious amounts, it dictates its dominance over the rest of the brain. Rather than eat, sleep, reproduce or hunt, the brain strictly wants to obtain and use the substance that makes it feel so good. Furthermore, as a tolerance is built to these substances in an effort to achieve an equal or better buzz by taking more and more, dependency also forms as the body completely chemically alters itself surrounding the substance of choice.
Getting sober and entering recovery is in part a process of recovering those essential survival needs. Surviving for so long on the basis of using drugs and alcohol can leave an individual bewildered when it comes to tending to the true needs of the mind and the body. Often experienced by recovering alcoholics and addicts is a thing called HALT. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, which can relate to the core survival needs of the midbrain. Managing HALT is a critical component in recovery. The recovering brain is reprogramming itself to understand the signals to eat, sleep, socialize. Still these signals may seem vague and confusing, creating odd responses and behaviors in the individual long before they can recognize that they are hungry, angry, feeling lonely or are exhausted.
Learning to interpret these indicators takes time. In early recovery, an important process is regularly checking in on these statuses, especially if there is a sudden change in mood and demeanor. Simply having snacks on hand, a friend to talk to or the ability to take a nap can greatly impact a recovering individual’s day, for the better.
Learning how to live is a process. The Villa Treatment Center is here to guide you through it. Our comprehensive programs of care are designed to help you help yourself, both inside and outside of the treatment setting. For more information, call a representative today at (855) 591-6116.