A lot of talk in recovery work deals with “building a positive (& sober) support network” and there is a concept called “re-joyment” – essentially it’s teaching addicts in recovery how to have a good time or recognize fun when they experience it. When people have been addicted to substances, they are used to such dopamine overloads in their mind, that when life returns to “normal” and they don’t have such stimulation, it can sometimes be difficult for one to recognize a sense of what “joy” or “fun” feels like. When I have taught Drug & Alcohol Counseling courses, I used an example of the football game: Very often addicts/alcoholics were used to supporting their teams through hours-long tailgating with lots of alcohol (which also increases the brains release of dopamine) & alcohol throughout the game. When they are sober, they have to “re-learn” how to participate at a game & what exactly they are feeling. People DO go to football games without drinking AND they may even tailgate without alcohol, but for the alcoholic in recovery, this is a new concept to them. This is why the positive support network has been a positive part of recovery.
The article linked below provides new support for the positive supportive environment & it’s role in helping addicts stay clean. It reminded me of the expression: “Happy Wife, Happy Life” :) Researchers found that when rats who were previously addicted to drug-infused water and isolative environments, they got addicted, but when they gave them the same water paired with other rats they could interact with, even after being “addicted”, they were ale to stop drinking the drug-infused water. The article notes that in a preliminary study with combat veterans, when they were addicted overseas in combat, they could more easily leave the addiction behind when they were back home in happier environments. The article posits that, like the rats who did better in more hospitable cage environments, we humans can design our cages (or support networks) in happier ways that could lead to more positive outcomes for a person’s recovery from addiction.
This post was inspired by someone dear to me who is trying to learn about their own venture into addiction and how to stay sober and I just want to publicly note how thrilled to know she is surviving and learning through her sobriety :)
Scientists may have discovered the real cause of Addiction
by Seam Levinson