One of the reasons addicts return to substance abuse again and again is their warped relationship with dopamine.
When it experiences pleasure, the brain increases levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter (chemicals that transmit signals in the brain). This is one reason human beings strive to seek out pleasurable activities; they get rewarded.
When opium is used, dopamine floods the pleasure center of the brain and is picked up by dopamine receptors and sent back through the cycle. However, in contrast to safe, natural dopamine releases, those that occur as the result of opium use are large and over time become unmanageable for the brain.
When your loved one exits treatment for opium addiction and continues to work through recovery, they need support. You are doing all that you know how to do, but there are a few things you can help with that will aid your recovering loved one to access some of the neurotransmitter euphoria that they remember from drug use. These tips provide safe, natural ways to feel pleasure.
If you are looking for more ways to support someone in recovery, contact Opium.org at 800-429-5210 (Who Answers?) and speak with someone who wants to help you.
Feel weird giving a recovery gift to your loved one? Don’t. Not only will the gift show your support in a tangible way, giving it will give both of your moods a boost. Human studies show that gift giving and receiving trigger increased release of oxytocin, the neurotransmitter that most affects intimacy, trust, and relationships. Want to pump up that bond even more, release additional oxytocin by being vocal about your love for your recovering addict. Just saying “I love you” is enough for a tiny oxytocin bump.
Yoga and Meditation
“A Narrative Review of Yoga and Mindfulness as Complementary Therapies for Addiction” states: “Yoga and mindfulness teachings share a fundamental belief in ‘mindful’ awareness of experiences and emotions as they arise, without having to change them. Addictions are born as a result of ‘mindless’ states involving escapist attitudes, automatic thinking, emotional reactivity and social isolation.”
Detoxification and ongoing treatment begin to shape the mindful self. But, recovery serves as a benchmark on the path of sobriety. From this point, yoga and meditation can be integrated with intention and awareness. As such, “mindfulness-based interventions, some of which include yoga, have sound conceptual underpinnings and growing empirical support for enhancing addiction treatment, prevention, and recovery.”
Offer to meditate or do yoga with your loved one. Suggest meditation or yoga groups. Offer lessons. Encouraging mindfulness breaks the cycle of stress, negative emotions, and addiction and replaces them with self-awareness, self-control, and self-realization.
Easing back into routines and maintaining sobriety make recovery a real challenge. Tension develops as a part of normal daily life, but it can be off the charts for recovering addicts. There are a few easy purchases that can help ease some of that tension for your loved one.
Tea is an obvious component of any relaxation activity. To avoid the jitters, stick to herbal teas. The following herbal teas are known for their relaxing effects:
- Chamomile: soothing to mild sedative effect
- Lemon balm: soothes the nervous system and stimulates the heart
- Catnip: soothing and mildly stimulating
- Linden: remedy for nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and indigestion
- American passionflower: calms nervousness and anxiety and helps with sleep
- Motherwort: used for nervous heart problems and palpitations and great for female concerns—PMS, menstrual pain and delayed menstruation
- Valerian: strong calming effects
- Blue vervain: alleviates insomnia and nervous conditions
Invite the recovering addict in your life over for tea or buy them some tea that they can make at home. Working it into their daily life can help ease recovery tensions and provide a stable routine that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol.
Simple activities and gifts can help you to build trust and support someone as they work through recovery. For more tips, contact Opium.org at 800-429-5210 (Who Answers?). We have the resources you need to be an important part of a valuable support network.