I’ve been told that my brain has a “Reward Center.” I’ve also been told that my brain’s reward center was a little off-kilter when I was taking pain killers on a regular basis. The opiates turned my brain into a little spoiled brat.
Although it’s a very simplistic description of a highly complex chemical process, this makes sense to me. Opiates have a tremendous influence of the pleasure centers of our brains and make them hyperactive in a sense. As you get deeper into pain killer addiction, you start to lose interest in things that you used to enjoy and place less importance on things that were once very important to you. As your brain is being fed more and more painkillers, it is pushing the reward threshold higher and higher so that the only thing that seems pleasurable is that first 1 hour or so after you take your dose…the bliss. Nothing else matters after a while.
If you think I’m being a bit hysterical let’s try a little test. Let’s say you’re driving home from work or maybe visiting friends or family and your next dose will be waiting for you when you get there. You’re concentrating on getting wherever you’re going but in the back of your mind there’s a tingling feeling of anticipation for that heaping-helping of pills. Now what if you took those pills away? What if there were no Vicodin or Lortab etc. waiting for you when you got there? Getting home or seeing your friends doesn’t seem like much fun at all does it? In fact, it’s almost an annoyance. That’s because you’re driving to your pills now and that’s all. It’s the somewhat shocking and terrifying reality of pill addiction or any addiction I suppose. The bliss is the only thing that drives you anymore and when you recognize that fact, it’s terribly sad and humiliating.
Well the good news is that your brain’s reward center can be rebooted. If you can find the strength to take that first step and rid yourself of those pills, your reward center will get a good kick in the pants and all of the things that were important to you at one point will be even more rewarding than ever.
After you take the first step, you’re not going to miss the bliss. You’ll also realize just how depressed and guilt-ridden you really were as a result of your short-circuited priorities. But it’s not easy admitting that you had lost your way and it takes courage to begin the process of getting happier again.
I really encourage you to think about this and be honest with yourself about your real priorities right now. I hope you can find the resolve to give your reward center a reality check so that you can get back to enjoying life.
And if you feel ashamed well just look at me! I’m writing about my addiction on a blog for everybody to see! For all I know, my Mom’s going to read this…how embarrassing is that?!
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