How Addiction Affects the Mind, Body and Soul By Colleen Marlett

The mind, body and soul are all affected when addiction rears its ugly head. Symptoms of the disease fall under these categories. A person may suffer many of the symptoms in every category or just a few in one or all. Identifying the categories and their symptoms are key in determining if you are dealing with full blown addiction or the beginning stages. Appropriate treatment will then depend on the findings. We break down how addiction affects the mind, body and soul below. 1. Mind The mind is probably the first thing to be affected by the disease of addiction. The choice to use is what drives the vehicle into the brick wall you end up at. Something in your brain, either conscience or sub-conscience, has delivered you to the doorstep of drug use and addiction. You were looking for some type of relief and you've found a temporary fix for the problem. Because drugs disrupt the normal transmission of signals from the brain on how information is sent, received and processed, you find yourself in a vicious cycle. First trying to assimilate the good feelings the drugs offer and then trying to balance the normal chemical activity of the brain. However, once the drugs have infiltrated the brain and your chemistry is altered, the need for the drug becomes more and more. Your brain eventually stops making dopamine and endorphins (the natural feel good chemicals) as well as sinking the levels of serotonin and melatonin (natural neurotransmitters) in the brain. Your decision-making ability, knowing right from wrong and acting accordingly, are changed. You may see acute symptoms of depression and anxiety setting in that weren't there before, or at least not as pronounced. At this point, your mind is hooked. Heroin (opioids), methamphetamine, cocaine and yes, marijuana, all affect the brain in this way. 2. Body Right in line with the mind being affected, is the body. Likely happening at the same time, drugs affect one's appetite causing weight gain or loss. Your energy levels are also affected. Spurts of high energy, hours or even days without sleep, leave you lethargic with aching muscles and sick to your stomach when you are without the drugs. Too much or too little sleep affects every system in your body and therefore your body learns to function the best way it can, which usually translates to functioning only when on the drugs. Your body will crave the drug in order not to hurt, not be violently ill, to sleep or to stay awake. Heroin (opioids) and alcohol have substantial and acute physical withdrawal such as vomiting, fever, chills, diarrhea, muscle cramping/aching and fatigue. But, don't kid yourself. Your body will react negatively to the withdrawal of any drug you abuse. The drugs have permeated your physical systems and your body needs the drugs to function. Your body, along with your mind is now addicted. 3. Soul At the point that your mind and body have been taken over by addiction, your soul will start to wain. The need to feel good in the mind and body and not suffer, will cause you to do whatever ever it takes to fulfill the need. You will start to separate yourself from people who care about you, surrounding yourself with those in the same boat. You will abuse and disrespect relationships and people who you never thought you would. You will remove yourself from any spiritual connection you may have once had in order to act on the things you know you shouldn't, in order to execute the need your mind and body have. In short, you will find yourself doing anything you can to get the fix you need. Your soul is no longer your own along with your mind and body and your addiction has come full circle. Knowing the categories of drug addiction and the symptoms that fall under them can be useful not only for a person walking the thin line to addiction but also for their loved ones. There's time before the soul falls victim to the disease and this is key to healing from the disease. Beware, there isn't much time. Healing all three requires substantially more effort and the appropriate rehabilitation program, but there is always hope and there is always help for anyone in need. You can heal the mind, body and soul from addiction if you are aware of what addiction looks and acts like.