How Addiction Develops
It is common to picture a successful individual as someone who is in total control of their lives. After all, a person doesn’t rise to high professional stature without having their act together, and most who do are very Type-A people by nature. What we may not be aware of, however, are the multiple sources of stress that can impact the daily life of an executive—from work to relationships to mental health.
Alcohol or drugs may become used as a tool to help the individual manage the demands of the job. Substances may also be used to self-medicate the symptoms of anxiety or depression that might develop. As tolerance to the substance increases, the individual will begin to need more of it to experience the initial effects. Increased consumption impacts brain chemicals and neural pathways begin to adjust to the increased levels of dopamine, while reward pathways become ingrained. Addiction or chemical dependency soon develops, as the brain now demands the consistent influx of the substance.
To unwind the addiction that has evolved it is necessary to obtain professional assistance. This journey begins with detox and withdrawal, transitions to addiction treatment, and continues with aftercare. It is during treatment that the individual learns how to change self-destructive behavior patterns and gain new coping skills for use in recovery.
It unsafe to abruptly stop using the substance once addiction or dependence has formed, as the withdrawal symptoms could be unpredictable and dangerous. At the very least, the symptoms become intolerable without medical care, resulting in the individual returning to the substance use and not completing detox or getting the help they need.