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The relationship between resilience and addiction

The Oxford dictionary defines resilience as the ability to quickly overcome difficult situations. In the addiction treatment field, we look at resilience as the ability to avoid addiction. It is when this resilience is broken, that the habit of drug use takes over leading to an addiction.

People are born with a certain degree of resilience. In some cases, it might be more and in some cases, it might be less. However, this is something that can be built upon. Resilience depends on a number of factors such as attitude, personality traits, coping mechanism, and genetics. Most of us are exposed to difficult circumstances throughout our lives. Such situations provide us with the stimuli to strengthen our resilience and learn to cope with adverse situations.

A healthy body and mind are important for good resilience

The human brain and body work on a feedback mechanism. This means that the reaction of the brain and the body are proportionate to the feedback they receive. This feedback can be both internal, from organs, feelings, and thoughts, and external, from circumstances. When the balance between the feedback and reaction is disturbed, the resilience of the mind and the body is disturbed.

All of us are aware of the physical resilience of our bodies, but most of us are unaware of our mental resilience. When a human brain is faced with emotional stressors, it learns to process these and develop a certain level of resilience, just like our physical being. These small stressors teach us to cope and nurture our brains into building a healthy psychological response that would be needed later when major problems attack. But, for this active healthy response to continue, we need to ensure that we feed our brain with healthy nutrients that can help it to remain healthy. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol are not a part of this healthy diet.

How substance use affects resilience

When faced with a difficult situation, some of us find it easier to indulge in substance use to cope with the situation. However, when we do that, we interfere with our brain’s ability to recognize a threat, process the circumstances, and react in a healthy manner. In other words, we break our mental resilience. And when a person does that on a continuous basis, that is, the person gets addicted to using substances, the brain is unable to process circumstances, learn anything from good or bad experiences, and is unable to use prior experiences to direct current behavior.

Just like drugs and alcohol consume the body from the inside, it also consumes the brain, incapacitating it. The effect of drug use on the brain is the most profound when a person stops using it. The person realizes that they have developed no mental immunity to drug use. The trauma or adverse circumstances that actually led to the substance use catch up with the person once they stop using substances. And because the resilience is broken, they are unable to cope with the mental stressor forcing them to reuse.

Can broken resilience be rebuild?

Yes. Quitting substance use and gaining sobriety can help restore broken resilience. Though the process of overcoming drug use is a long one, the effects can be seen immediately. According to the National survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2019, more than 20.4 million individuals, aged 12 years and above, suffered from a past year substance use disorder (SUD).

If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol and is looking for reliable drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, feel free to get in touch with the 24/7 Recovery Helpline. Call our 24/7 helpline 855-441-4405 and speak with a representative for drug rehab help. You can also chat online with our experts who can help assess your requirements and suggest an alcohol treatment plan accordingly.

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