AM I AN ADDICT?

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By NYATUNDO N. YVONNE

Did you know that you can be literally addicted to anything? Yes, anything, for instance learning. The same rush one gets when they drink alcohol is similar to the one a learner would get after their brain consumes new knowledge. The reward pathway of the brain will reward your body with the ‘feel good hormone’ dopamine and this is what reinforces the subsequent impulses to indulge in the supposed activity. Alcohol and drug addiction are the most common of all addictions but they’re not the only ones.

Yesterday, 10th October was World Mental Health Day and up till then I hadn’t realized that I’d never met a recovery addict in person and there he was. The exact opposite of whichever image you have of an addict. He was tall, caramel, enthusiastic as he spoke that his hands couldn’t help but emphasize the intensity of his narration and his bulky frame made anyone want to listen to his story. As I listened to his speak with, not pain, not sadness, not remorse but confidence and a strong conviction. He described how he fell off the wagon after, as most of us will admit to; he had started drinking for fun. Before he knew it, his answers to the CAGE questionnaire would all be positive had he been asked.

Team Scarlet at the World Mental Health Day celebration

His major change came when his mother threatened to disown him this is after he had been living on the streets for years, lost almost if not all of his friends and this is when he gained insight and decided to literally submit himself to a rehabilitation centre and now he had been 2 years clean without even an attempt at tasting alcohol. He pointed out that justification and denial and an addict’s main hindrances and that once acceptance occurs, then change is bound to follow but change cannot occur in the absence of acceptance which is why one can experience periods of forced abstinence. These are periods of relapses following commitment to stay drug free.

The CAGE questionnaire is basically used by trained health professionals to assess the drinking history of an individual and it comprises 4 questions that are scored out of 4. A score of 2 or more indicates that a drinking problem is present. The questions are as follows;

  1. Have you ever felt the need to cut down on drinking?
  2. Do you get annoyed when criticized about your drinking?
  3. Have you ever felt bad about drinking?
  4. Do you have an eye opener (usually a dependent person would have liquor beside their bed such that first thing they do every morning before they even get out of the covers is reach out and have a gulp or walk to where they store their liquor and that’s the eye opener)

Each question has a score of 1.

If the guy with the bulky frame could do it, why can’t you?

Please seek professional help if you feel the need to. There’s is no shame in seeking assistance. Mental health is paramount and everyone deserves to live their life optimally and be functional members of the society. It may feel impossible to quit your addiction right now but I promise you it can be done, it has been done and it will be done so is today going to be day one or one day for you?

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