Substance Abuse

   Believe it or not, every addiction has its root in unhappiness. Being addicted to drugs, alcohol, smoking or any other substance works as an emotional anesthetic for a person who is unhappy and in pain. The question that arises is that why does addiction have its root in pain? Our brain grows after our birth. The kind of emotional and physical interactions we encounter determine the development of our brain. The brain's circuitry and chemistry throws light on our individual experiences of life as much as inherited tendencies. For a drug to work in the brain, the nerve cells must have receptors - the center where the drug can bind. Our brain is made of opiate receptors and we all have natural opiate like substances known as endorphins, chemicals that participate in many functions and which regulate pain and mood within us.
   As per a survey, infant rates who were less taken care of by their mothers recorded less natural benzo receptors in that part of the brain that controls anxiety. Infant monkeys who got separated from their mothers even for a few days registered a deficiency in dopamine which is the key neurochemical. The same applies to humans. Children who have had warm, stress free calm interactions with their parents ONLY have a release of endorphins. Endorphins are responsible for the growth of nerve cells & receptors and promote discharge of many other brain chemicals. If a child has less endorphin - enhancing experiences in infancy and early childhood, this child when becomes an adult has a greater urge to seek it from external resources. Thus they become vulnerable to addictions.
   Painful childhood memories of being abandoned or physical and psychological abuse - all these are very common issues faced by people around us. These victims get into addiction. But the shocking truth is that even children who haven't faced all these and have a loving, nurturing and a secure family are also into addiction. The unseen reason here is the stress that the parents have lived under, which many of the parents barely recognize. It could be from relationship issues / external factors - financial pressure  /any sort of disruption. A frequently observed source of hidden stress of the parents' own childhood histories that they saddled into their life like a emotional baggage and were never even aware of it. The things that we are not aware of in ourselves, we pass it on our children. An addict was asked what did a hit of heroin feel like. He replied that it felt like a "warm soft hug". Thus what this addict didn't get enough of before, now he could inject it. The truth is that parents who carry an emotional baggage and are stressed / depressed / anxious find it very difficult to give emotionally rewarding endorphin - liberating interactions with their children.
   Loneliness or being deprived of love / having no one to share your deepest emotions is a universal root cause of addiction. If a parent is not able to give the child an experience of being wanted / the child does not feel safe in expressing emotions like anger, hatred or anything that is felt. It is futile for the parent despite of all the love he / she has for the child. Children become addicted because they lack unconditional love, they are rejected and not fully accepted as they are, by their parents. It is not the fault of the parent either - and it is not that they did not want to give unconditional love and acceptance to the child but just that they had no idea how to transmit it to the child. The emotional baggage which the parent carries does not allow this transmission. Both need help - the addict as well as the parent.
   Techniques of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) like re-imprinting of past painful memories from the subconscious, Time line Therapy and many other therapies used in NLP can help in healing both the parties. Addiction is never a remedy nor holding onto painful past memories will help. Talk to one another and find a solution that works best for the parent and the child. The children today need everything extra be it love, care, security, materialistic pleasures or anything. They need lot of care and want attention too but if a parent does that in excess they get irritated. They need to be handled with utmost care as they are fragile and demanding. They face lot of pressure from their peers and many other persons in their life. Due to this they get stressed easily and are not able to handle things even though they have ideal parents. This leads to addiction and many other forms of self harm. But love, care and counselling would definitely be of great help.


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