Welcome to the 5th segment of a nine part series on the big areas of life that addiction/alcoholism and recovery can and need to have(for the recovery part)on our life in general. Please go into whatever archives exist on the site you are reading this to find the article from May of this year so you can get caught up on the main four areas. For the sake of bringing some people up to speed and for a quick reminder for those who read last month’s article, the main or fabulous four areas of life are: Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual. Again, see the archives for a detailed breakdown of these areas. This month, we are going to take a closer look at some of the ways that recovery affect the mental part of our life. Of course, there is so much information on this that it would literally take us at least a few years of daily articles to cover it all. Since you have no desire to spend that much time reading and ditto for me typing, we will cover some basics. As with all articles, I encourage you to do as much further research as you can/want on the subject.
How does recovery affect the mental part of our lives? In many ways, thankfully. A common phrase you hear in treatment and recovery is “a new way of thinking”, or “she/he has to develop a new way of thinking”. Well, most everyone would agree that an addict or alcoholic definitely could use a tune up in how they think, but defining that is a little trickier. Research shows that the brain of an addict or an alcoholic,once sober, actually repairs and fixes itself back to almost 100% of what it used to be(provided the unfortunate, imaginary line has been crossed and the person has caused themselves irreparable brain damage). As the brain heals, and there are many 3D images available via the internet that can show you the damage and then the healing of the brain, the cognitive part of the brain is able to function again at a high level.
Over time, and it has been estimated that it takes roughly 2 years for an addict or alcoholic brain to regain total, optimal functioning, the thought patterns began to evolve and are soon on par with someone who has never had the issue. Certain thoughts may still be present that require attention, though. For instance, an alcoholic may at times, find the thought of drinking cross his mind. It is important to note that although sober, and healthier, the brain never fully rids itself of the disease of alcoholism or addiction(please reference earlier articles or look up addiction as a disease if you need some clarity on this)and because of that disease, an addict or alcoholic will always need to be mindful of some sabotaging thoughts that may pop up, but a new way of thinking is formed over time and can lead to a productive and happy life style.
Treatment plays a big role in this dynamic, because developing a new way of thinking for one’s self, ultimately requires many other people. You can’t tell, on your own accord, at least not initially that you are experiencing change. You need feedback from professionals and experienced people. On of the great thing about the brain, is it learns through hearing and seeing others. This is simply put, how school works. The professionals in treatment serve as the “teachers” of recovery and can help facilitate the change in thinking that you need.
Enjoy the beginning of fall! We’ll see you next month!