Addiction’s development in the brain largely has to do with the production of pleasure, through a brain chemical called dopamine. The brain becomes addicted to the pleasure caused by drugs and alcohol. Any and all negativity becomes a signal that more pleasure is needed, which is how drugs and alcohol become a coping mechanism for life.
Negativity can spread like a virus in the brain. Though the brain certainly can become attracted and addicted to pleasure, it pays special attention to negativity. If there wasn’t a heightened sensitivity or awareness to negativity in addiction, for example, there wouldn’t be such a need to compensate for it with pleasure.
Negativity is a threat to the brain yet negativity does have its rewards. Addiction has a lot of negative consequences, yet there are payoffs to continuing addictive behaviors. For instance, withdrawals are uncomfortable and painful. Using drugs and alcohol again temporarily relieves those symptoms, even though using makes the body, as well as the brain, more sick. The cycle perpetuates, thriving on negativity, seeking compensation for it, and continuing to create negativity.
Getting into a positive mindset is a major focus of recovery. Since addiction rewires the brain to be dysfunctional, treatment and recovery focus on wiring the brain to be functional again. Thinking positively is more than just new age-self-help-personal-development gibberish. Positive thinking changes brain structure, reduces stress, and improves life overall. There is a distinct difference between a man in recovery who only sees the bad in everything and thinks negatively versus the man in recovery who keeps a positive mindset.
Simply “snapping out of it” when it comes to a negative mindset is easier said than done. Men in recovery learn that attitude is a daily job, perspective takes effort, and habit is a matter of consistent behavior. Changing into a positive mindset can be both short term and long term.
Gratitude is one of the most quick and effective ways to change your mindset from positive to negative. Scientifically proven to change the brain, gratitude is a perspective shifter. Working on gratitude everyday helps to build more positive behaviors, which add up and become habitual overtime.
Remember that positivity is a choice, not a luxury some people happen to come by. Recovery is also a choice, a daily one, which requires sustainable change. At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California, we are helping men find freedom from addiction by creating the sustainable changes which lead to a sustainable recovery. For information on our men’s treatment programs, call us today: