The outward appearance of many addicts to people who aren’t afflicted with the disease tend to view it based on that perception. Most can’t understand why someone who’s been into the emergency room one or more times for an overdose would continue to engage in the harmful activity of drug abuse. Many will also attribute this inability to understand to completely unrelated aspects of what they also see and come to the conclusion that this person is just unfit for society, a lower class of person who can’t make good decisions or worse, makes willfully bad decisions. A lot of this attitude also comes from the uniquely American ideal of ‘rugged individualism’, the idea that everyone’s situation is determined exclusively by their actions which come from the person’s decisions on what actions to take. It’s typically framed as ‘I’m thirsty, I will pour myself a glass of water’.
Because addiction itself doesn’t actually work that way, it’s one reason why so many people will abuse a substance to the detriment of their health. Other than people who perform death-defying stunts, rescue workers, and other specific professionals, the average, rational person will not make a decision to put their body in harm’s way for any reason. The addict’s brain, however, is not operating under these normal circumstances. When addiction takes hold, the communication between the ‘fight or flight’ part of the brain and the ‘logical, rational’ part of the brain begin to break down. The rational portion of the brain will mistake what is safe for harm and vice versa, resulting in the classic ‘just one more’ kind of scene that is associated with the same images of people who suffer from addiction. The brain begins to mistake separation from the dangerous use of drugs as the threat, triggering the flight response when an addict is faced with admitting their problem or facing forced therapy and rehab treatments. An addict’s perception of themselves is distorted, even more so than the outsider’s perspective if they hold the view that the addict is simply making ‘bad choices’. In fact, some addicts will recognize their actions as regretful even while engaging in them, but because of the breakdown of their logical thought process and the overpowering of the fight/flight part, they’ll continue to engage in the behavior.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a very serious illness that cannot simply be ‘willed away’ without the help of addiction treatment, even in Pennsylvania. If it was so easy, there wouldn’t be 22.7 million people who need treatment in America, according to the National Study on Drug Use and Health.
Rehab in PA is available to those who suffer from addiction, including IOP or intensive outpatient in Philly. If you or someone you know might be suffering from the effects of drug or alcohol addiction, call Philly Counseling Center at 610-298-1999.