Addiction Rewires Your Brain

coaching early recovery recovery transformation Feb 01, 2021
New Programming


Our mind is our own personal operating system. It’s the “command center” which has the programs that run our life. Our mind’s programs are supposed to protect us from harm, to keep us surviving and thriving. 


But then. 


Addiction arrives into our life and installs itself in our mind. Like a bad program or computer virus, it alters the original commands and creates new ones.


Addiction re-programs our mind with a simple promise: “I have a great, and effective solution to feel pleasure; to get immediate relief from pain; to avoid difficult feelings; to make life easier and more enjoyable”. 



Prior to addiction, your mind’s commands probably sounded like this:

  • I'm tired - I should sleep
  • I'm scared - I should pause and think
  • I'm angry - I should resolve the anger
  • I'm in pain - I should find a way to heal
  • I'm happy - I should smile, laugh, maybe even cry with joy
  • I'm stressed - I should breathe, pause, rest



With addiction, your mind’s commands probably sound like this:

  • I'm tired - A drink will relax me
  • I'm scared - A drink will make me brave
  • I'm angry - A drink will clear my head
  • I'm in pain - A drink will help
  • I'm happy - A drink will help me celebrate
  • I'm stressed - I deserve a drink



The more addiction grows, the more harm it brings. The substance of choice stops bringing relief - and brings pain, instead. 


Our mind, which used to say “hey, don’t do this thing, because it’s harming you” - NOW says: “hey, if you do this thing, it won’t be the same as last time. It will be good. You can control this. You deserve this. This will work, this time around. I promise”. 


Addiction lives in your mind and has your own voice. It lives, breathes, and controls everything, making you think it has your best intentions. 


Do you now see how impossible it is to have your mind be the solution for addiction, if addiction lives in your mind? You cannot fix with your mind a problem that centers in your mind. 


The first step in claiming back your mind (and your life) from the hands of addiction is to understand this.


This piece of information is not meant to bring you hopelessness. It’s meant to bring you clarity. THIS is why you cannot use your willpower to quit drinking. 


You need a new, powerful program to replace the bad programming of addiction. You need a set of commands and tools to re-wire your mind, and set it free from the “virus” which has taken over. I've said this many times: it doesn't matter which program you choose (AA saved my life, but there are many). You just need to choose one.


I've written more about programs of recovery here.

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