Neurochemistry what the heck does that have to do with addiction?

This is my third blog post on addiction and completes this series.

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist, I have studied the subject of neurochemistry in relationship to addiction, but these are my own conclusions and opinions coming from that studying and my experience.
Do your own homework, remember you are your own best teacher!
I am not the font of all knowledge or the oracle (Yet! lol, I need a few hundred years, crap do I have to become a vampire …. damn, well it might not be so bad!) I’m a mere mortal with some life experience which once healed, ended up with a touch of wisdom. (Well I like to think so anyway.) Neurochemistry of addiction

I’ve mentioned being ‘at choice’ in my previous posts. Within the context of addiction this means how much will power do I have at my disposal in this moment in order to apply my sobriety strategies successfully.

Here’s an exert from my previous blog post:
“Another huge piece of unwrapping the puzzle for me anyway was with a biofeedback machine, from the HeartMath institute. With a simple program on the computer I was to get the program into ‘coherence’, the sweet spot where I was happy. So once I had that down, I started to play with my thoughts to see where some of my triggers were. I got the machine into coherence and thought one word ‘Cocaine’, my coherence vanished into the toilet, that didn’t surprise me, to this day 11 years later, I get butterflies in the stomach thinking the word.
What did surprise me, was that even though I got right back to thinking the thoughts that got me into coherence the first time, it took 3X as long to get me back to my happy place. This was shocking and illuminating to me. No wonder when we use ‘whatever’, the ability to stop gets harder and harder. We are less and less ‘at choice’, and this brings us to neurochemistry. ”

So to explain we need to get a bit sciencey which I actually love.

We need to start at the very beginning of your life, which starts in utero.
There used to be a belief that our neurochemistry was set at birth and that was that. Now we know better, we know about the brain’s plasticity. The brain can change and heal, yes you heard me. Now that doesn’t give you a free pass to go and drink yourself into oblivion thinking that all the cells your are killing will heal. (Yes I know some of you went there, don’t bullshit an ex-bullshiter).

From the time we are fully formed in utero to approx. 6 yrs old all experiences from the child’s perspective create a reaction in the brain’s neurochemistry. Perceived positive experiences make it rise and perceived negative experiences make it drop. (I’m sure it’s far more complicated that that, but in simple terms ….). Then around 6 yrs old the neurochemistry sets to the average of all those experiences.

Now the word perceived is very important as these experiences are from the child’s perspective, not necessarily the truth (whatever that means, and I will not go down that particular rabbit hole!). So a child that is ill and ends up in the hospital for days, may experience abandonment due to their parents not being able to stay with them the whole time. They are actually not abandoned, but we come from our perspective of reality even when little. I imagine many parents when playing hide and seek with their little child had the experience of their child being totally shocked when you found them easily. You found them easily because you could see a part of their body. When the child is very young, if they can’t see you they think you can’t see them, and are astounded when you find them because even though part of their body was clearly visible to you, they cannot yet imagine that. “How did you find me mommy?” I loved those moments with my child, absolutely precious.

So your neurochemistry is now set, but where did it set? I have a hypothesis that addicts that prefer booze and pot, (downers, they chill you out) have their neurochemistry set higher than non-addicts, and addicts who prefer stimulants like cocaine, (They ramp you up) have their neurochemistry set too low. This is purely speculation but I like my theory, would that someone does a research paper on this, I’d love to find out. If I am correct it would also help create better pharmaceuticals that target more accurately, rather than the hit or miss that seems to be the norm at the moment. Not that I’m advocate for the pharmaceutical industry far from it, but some medication is good, it’s not all black and white in life.

So regardless of where your neurochemistry is set, the more you use your addiction of choice, the more it affects your neurochemistry. As illuminated with the HeartMath biofeedback machine even the word, of my favourite substance affected my neurochemistry, imagine what actually using if for hours did. Then (I’ll use cocaine as it is what I most familiar with), you crash once you stop using it. In particular your dopamine crashes, as cocaine is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor which is why it makes you feel so damn good. It jacks your dopamine up and then stops it from coming down. Now you awake with a cocaine hangover, which means your dopamine is in the proverbial toilet, which means you are severely depressed neurochemically and otherwise. Which lasts from my experience 3 days with day 2 being the worst. Now think back to the first blog post about my experience as an addict, add to that this information …… and shitballs if you have no compassion now you are the spawn of Voldemort and do not have a heart!

To illuminate the ‘at choice’ concept I’m going to use a neurochemistry set point scale of 1 – 20, 10 being the average for non-addicts. Say before I started using cocaine my neurochemistry was generally (yes it does fluctuate) set at 8. Then I use cocaine, it skyrockets to 16, then I stop and it plummets to 4. Then once I’ve gone through the depression stage after not using, it goes back up but only to 7 not my usual setting of 8. Then I use cocaine, it skyrockets to 16, then I stop and it plummets to 3. Then once I’ve gone through the depression stage after not using, it goes back up but only to 6 not my usual setting of 8. Then I use cocaine, it skyrockets to 16, then I stop and it plummets to 3. Then once I’ve gone through the depression stage after not using, it goes back up but only to 5 not my usual setting of 8. Getting the idea, I’m making the numbers up to show a cycle, do not take these numbers as factual they are not. I tried to make a fancy ass diagram to illuminate this, but once I started all the other factors made things much too complicated for me to draw out. As one needs to add to that the knowledge that it takes longer and longer to get back to normal, that the drugs effects wane and more and more is needed, depression increases, that stresses play a role, on and on. Well that’s one rolling ball than never mind ‘gathering no moss’, will just explode at some point. The proverbial ‘bottoming out’, straw that broke the camels back, etc. happens.

So no matter what strategies I use for sobriety, at each stage I have less and less chance that my strategies will be successful, no matter how much I intellectually want to not use, physically my neurochemistry is handicapping me. I am less ‘at choice’.

So …… yes I take full responsibility for choosing to use cocaine, and yes I chose addiction as a way to numb my pain, the pain that I had before I started using addiction as a self medicating strategy. I started numbing pain when I was very little, with food. Then came cigarettes at 13, then pot at 18. I fought them all successfully on and off throughout my life. It wasn’t until I was 40 that I tried cocaine and knew with the very first line that I was well and truly screwed. I had found the substance that hit my sweet spot of numbing that pain, and having battled addiction for as long as I could remember, I didn’t think I would win this one. Thankfully I was wrong.

Hopefully now you have learnt something new about addiction and why it is so hard to overcome it. Addicts need our help and support when they ask for it. They have to recreate their world from scratch with a neurochemical imbalance, depression and choosing to stop using the thing that made life tolerable. They have to face and feel a lifetime of pain and heal.

Do not try and rescue an addict or force them into treatment, it will not work in the long term, addicts need to make that choice themselves. If you feel that you have to rescue or force them into treatment, take a big look in the mirror, because you are not actually doing it for them, even if you think you are. You are doing it for you. That might be hard to hear, you may be calling ‘bullshit’, but underlying everything we do, is a motivation that leads right back to us.

For my part, my motivation for this series on addiction I knew wasn’t to just to help addicts and non-addicts alike. I knew because when that person talked about addicts with disgust and loathing (see 1st blog post on addiction) I had an uncomfortable reaction. That was my red flag. If I had completely healed my issues around addiction the disgust and loathing would not have created a reaction in me. I would have know it was just their stuff without any emotional reaction other than compassion. I know this to be true from all the healing work I have done.

It has been through writing these posts that what lurked beneath …. has become clear. What I now know, is underneath my desire to write these posts, I was hoping for forgiveness, hoping for acceptance from outside myself. (Do not give it to me, you will not be helping!) Trying once again to dislodge feelings of inadequacy, judgement, shame and blame through others acceptance. It was exactly this dance that I did with my parents as a young child, changing who I was, in order to be loved. That was how I wounded myself, so much so, that I needed to numb the pain of my own betrayal.

I did not realize this when I started this series, I thought that layer of the proverbial onion was healed, but alas it was lurking in my subconscious, I did not want to see it. However …. hello, bonjour there it was.

Now I once again have done my healing work around my shit, healing a little more, and become a more balanced human. Grateful for the person who unknowingly pushed my buttons. They brought the next piece in my healing journey front and centre, and I am grateful to myself for seeing it.

 

The Teacher of Patience ~ Completion ~ Mayan Daykeeper Ahaw

Your interpretation and experience of these energies is your own. I can only share my personal understanding, I invite you to explore what they mean to you and their relevance in your life. This is really important. We gain nothing by ‘taking on’ others life experiences and beliefs. The juice and healing comes from within your own understanding, it is pivotal for your healing journey.

This cycle I am looking at the interconnection between The Twenty Great Teachers of Life and The Earth Count. Let’s see what their interconnection has to teach us. The relevant daily information on each energy is below todays musings.

This 20 day cycle is completed today. Tomorrow brings a new cycle, where I am completely changing it up. We will look at creation through imagination? I invite you today, to watch what you imagine about that, and the story you create to explain what is to come.

The Interconnection of Patience & Completion ~ For me the connection here, is that whenever I need patience, it is usually due to something that I could choose to be irritated about. It is something I need to slow down for. When I no longer need to be patient whatever it was, has been completed. I am no longer on the ferry, I have accomplished a task, someone else is finished doing whatever they were doing that I needed to be patient for. (Yes I am a fire sign!) Hence patience and completion go hand in hand.

Herons are such wonderful mirrors of patience. I’ve seen them stand watching & waiting to get a fish for hours, truly masters of the art. When they get the fish the cycle is completed and they start all over again.

Great teachers, patience, mayan, daykeeper, ahaw, cycles, time, completion, end, all-seeing, healing through ceremony.com, michele fire-river heart

20 – The Great Teacher of Patience
Patience teaches us about tolerance of the differences

If you need to bring in more patience, move to an island! Living on an island you either gain patience, are cranky or you move. The first thing one notices is the pace, the pace here is slower. One of the ways one can tell a visitor or new islander is by their pace. They have a faster pace, expect things faster, can’t believe we deal with ferries and contractors that are so busy, it leaves your timing, at their discretion. I was this person, I had no patience when I arrived, zero, zip, none.  Now when I leave the island I can’t wait to get back. One of the reasons, pace, which in retrospect is quite amusing.

One of the biggest teachers of patience is the ferry. Ferries are slow, one has to wait in line for it to arrive, it may be on time it may not. Then loading is slow, crossing is slow, unloading is slow, and waiting to get back on to go home is slow yet again. The amount of practice opportunities are immense, and the ferries alone was a major factor in me being able to  slow down, I had no choice, I was dependent upon them and had no influence over them, so what to do? Accept and have patience.

Our little island is very tolerant of differences, yes we have patience for the most part, but we also engage with more people we know on a daily basis than in a city. It’s much easier to blow up at someone in a city and walk away than on an island. We live with each other, we depend on each other, we need to get along. So just like most of our moms taught us, we learn to share, to make up, to forgive, to be okay with other peoples differences. Gabriolan’s are an eccentric bunch and proud of it, and most of us I imagine have developed patience with the side effect being we not only tolerate people’s differences, we revel in it.

20 – The Twenty ~ TWENTY is COMPLETION
This is the Return to the Great Zero where all things are Born, The Return to WahKahn and SsKwan.
Come, children of becoming where is your Foundation?
(Hyemeyohsts Storm’s Earth Count)

20 – Mayan Daykeeper Ahaw ~ The essence of Ahaw is completion, culmination, realization, integration.

Ahaw may be experienced as a sense of completion.
This experience may include understanding
the causes and effects that led to this moment.
Ahaw offers the awareness of how completion
relates to the entire cycle of life.

Ahaw’s days are opportunities to see situations
as they fit into the bigger picture.
It is a good time to consider the necessity of certain events
and their involvement in something larger than their immediate effects.

People born on a Ahaw day are sensitive to the cycles of time
and respect the importance of being timely.
They naturally accept that everything plays a part
in something greater than itself.

This is an exerpt from
Mayan Calendar Voice of the Galaxy by Raymond Mardyks and Stacia Alana-Leah

Should you wish to know your Birth Daykeeper, Contact me with your birth date.

Previous Ahaw days this year Jan 3rd, 23rd, Feb 12th, March 4th, 24th, April 13th, May 3rd, 23rd, June 12th, July 2nd, 22nd, Aug 11th, 31st

Patience as a Teacher ~ Completion ~ Mayan Daykeeper Ahaw

Your interpretation and experience of this teacher is your own. I can only share my personal understanding, I invite you to explore what this teacher means to you and the lessons it has brought you thus far. This is really important. We gain nothing by ‘taking on’ others life experiences. The juice and healing comes from within your own paradigm, it is pivotal for your healing journey.

20 – The Great Teacher of Patience
Patience teaches us about tolerance of the differences

Do you have patience?
How does patience change your experience?
When you don’t have patience how do you feel?
How does patience teach you about tolerating differences?

Great teachers, patience, mayan, daykeeper, ahaw, cycles, time, completion, end, all-seeing, healing through ceremony.com, michele fire-river heart

20 – The Twenty ~ TWENTY is COMPLETION
This is the Return to the Great Zero where all things are Born, The Return to WahKahn and SsKwan.
Come, children of becoming where is your Foundation?
(Hyemeyohsts Storm’s Earth Count)

20 – Mayan Daykeeper Ahaw ~ The essence of Ahaw is completion, culmination, realization, integration.

Ahaw may be experienced as a sense of completion.
This experience may include understanding
the causes and effects that led to this moment.
Ahaw offers the awareness of how completion
relates to the entire cycle of life.

Ahaw’s days are opportunities to see situations
as they fit into the bigger picture.
It is a good time to consider the necessity of certain events
and their involvement in something larger than their immediate effects.

People born on a Ahaw day are sensitive to the cycles of time
and respect the importance of being timely.
They naturally accept that everything plays a part
in something greater than itself.

This is an exerpt from
Mayan Calendar Voice of the Galaxy by Raymond Mardyks and Stacia Alana-Leah

Should you wish to know your Birth Daykeeper, Contact me with your birth date.

Previous Ahaw days this year Jan 3rd, 23rd, Feb 12th, March 4th, 24th, April 13th, May 3rd, 23rd, June 12th, July 2nd, 22nd, August 11th

The Teacher of Patience ~ Completion ~ Mayan Daykeeper Ahaw

Your interpretation and experience of this teacher is your own. I can only share my personal understanding, I invite you to explore what this teacher means to you and the lessons it has brought you thus far. This is really important. We gain nothing by ‘taking on’ others life experiences. The juice and healing comes from within your own paradigm, it is pivotal for your healing journey.

20 – The Great Teacher of Patience
Patience teaches us about tolerance of the differences

If you need to bring in more patience, move to an island! Living on an island you either gain patience, are cranky or you move. The first thing one notices is the pace, the pace here is slower. One of the ways one can tell a visitor or new islander is by their pace. They have a faster pace, expect things faster, can’t believe we deal with ferries and contractors that are so busy, it leaves your timing, at their discretion. I was this person, I had no patience when I arrived, zero, zip, none.  Now when I leave the island I can’t wait to get back. One of the reasons, pace, which in retrospect is quite amusing.

One of the biggest teachers of patience is the ferry. Ferries are slow, one has to wait in line for it to arrive, it may be on time it may not. Then loading is slow, crossing is slow, unloading is slow, and waiting to get back on to go home is slow yet again. The amount of practice opportunities are immense, and the ferries alone was a major factor in me being able to  slow down, I had no choice, I was dependent upon them and had no influence over them, so what to do? Accept and have patience.

Our little island is very tolerant of differences, yes we have patience for the most part, but we also engage with more people we know on a daily basis than in a city. It’s much easier to blow up at someone in a city and walk away than on an island. We live with each other, we depend on each other, we need to get along. So just like most of our moms taught us, we learn to share, to make up, to forgive, to be okay with other peoples differences. Gabriolan’s are an eccentric bunch and proud of it, and most of us I imagine have developed patience with the side effect being we not only tolerate people’s differences, we revel in it.

Below one of my great teachers of patience – The Quinsam

Great teachers, patience, mayan, daykeeper, ahaw, cycles, time, completion, end, all-seeing, healing through ceremony.com, michele fire-river heart

20 – The Twenty ~ TWENTY is COMPLETION
This is the Return to the Great Zero where all things are Born, The Return to WahKahn and SsKwan.
Come, children of becoming where is your Foundation?
(Hyemeyohsts Storm’s Earth Count)

20 – Mayan Daykeeper Ahaw ~ The essence of Ahaw is completion, culmination, realization, integration.

Ahaw may be experienced as a sense of completion.
This experience may include understanding
the causes and effects that led to this moment.
Ahaw offers the awareness of how completion
relates to the entire cycle of life.

Ahaw’s days are opportunities to see situations
as they fit into the bigger picture.
It is a good time to consider the necessity of certain events
and their involvement in something larger than their immediate effects.

People born on a Ahaw day are sensitive to the cycles of time
and respect the importance of being timely.
They naturally accept that everything plays a part
in something greater than itself.

This is an exerpt from
Mayan Calendar Voice of the Galaxy by Raymond Mardyks and Stacia Alana-Leah

Should you wish to know your Birth Daykeeper, Contact me with your birth date.

Previous Ahaw days this year Jan 3rd, 23rd, Feb 12th, March 4th, 24th, April 13th, May 3rd, 23rd, June 12th, July 2nd, 22nd