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Addiction's Lasting Effects and the Road to Recovery - A Comprehensive Response

Note: This is the second article in a now three-part series on understanding addiction, driven by the profound engagement and inquiries from our readers. This part explores the long-lasting effects of substance abuse and the road to recovery. The third post titled "Breaking the Silence: Addressing Substance Abuse Together," is crafted based on and is thus responsive to readers’ comments and questions, aiming to foster a community dialogue around substance abuse. It will focus on:

  • Recognising Addiction and Seeking Help: Understanding addiction as a chronic disease akin to hypertension or diabetes.

  • Exploring Addiction Treatment Options

  • Rehabilitation is not a punishment for bad behaviour, it is a journey that requires a conducive environment and professional support.

  • Overcoming the Challenges of Recovery

  • Addiction Relapse – What to Do If It Happens.

The healing process, a crucial aspect highlighted by many of you, will be a significant part of the last post. Healing is a journey we must all take, but we do not have to walk it alone. Relapse is not a failure but a hurdle in the recovery journey.

Turning a Blind Eye to a Global Crisis: The Alert That Never Was

Substance abuse is a growing global crisis, yet it is one that often goes unnoticed or is deliberately ignored. Despite the severity of the issue, we tend to miss the warning signs, especially within our own households. This widespread ignorance does a disservice to the next generation, allowing a serious issue to persist unchecked.

How many of us are truly alert to the signs? How many of us catch the moment our children first start experimenting with harmful substances? Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers either miss these early warning signs or choose to sweep the issue under the rug, hoping it will disappear of its own accord. This lack of attention and action not only leads to the problem remaining unaddressed but allows it to escalate into a much larger issue with dire consequences. Health issues can range from addiction and overdose to, in extreme cases, death. Social implications include academic failure or even school dropout, unemployment, homelessness, and involvement in criminal activities

Consider this illustrative case: "My now 17-year-old began experimenting with drugs probably around the age of 6. For years, I noticed money going missing. I even suspected my wife, thinking she might be the one taking it. It was only after confronting her and seeing her genuine shock that we considered our then 10-year-old son as the possible culprit. We both had demanding jobs and would frequently come home after he had gone to bed. We never realised he was under the influence of drugs. Fortunately, we managed to intervene before his habit escalated uncontrollably. He is now in recovery and performing well at school." - Parent

This poignant example highlights the urgent need for greater understanding and collective action. It is time we stopped turning a blind eye to this pressing issue and started taking decisive action.

The Hidden Impact on the Brain

Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to quit smoking, even when you are fully aware of its detrimental effects on your health? Or why some people cannot seem to distance themselves from drugs, despite losing everything they hold dear?

The root cause lies in the brain. Consuming drugs or alcohol triggers the release of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, responsible for sensations of pleasure and reward. When you indulge in these substances, your brain becomes awash with dopamine, creating feelings of euphoria.

However, a dilemma arises when your brain starts to adapt to these elevated levels of dopamine. Over time, you will find that you need to consume greater quantities of the substance to achieve the same pleasurable sensation. This phenomenon is known as tolerance.

Additionally, your brain begins to develop cravings for the substance, compelling you to seek it out even when you are conscious of its harmful consequences. These cravings manifest as intense urges to consume the drug or alcohol, rendering it increasingly challenging to abstain.

Addiction is not merely a lapse in judgement; it is a chronic brain disease that alters the functioning of your brain in the following ways:

  • It modifies your brain in a manner that hampers impulse control.

  • It impairs your ability to make rational decisions.

  • It negatively affects your memory and learning capabilities.

  • It disrupts your dopamine system, which in turn affects your motivation and reward mechanisms.

These alterations make it exceedingly difficult to exercise self-discipline. However, it is crucial to note that recovery from addiction is feasible, and it is possible to regain control of your life.

"Addiction is a lasting brain condition caused by both physical and mental factors. Studies using brain imaging confirm changes in the brains of those struggling with addiction. It's influenced by both genetics and environment. Adrian Mugenyi, Team Leader, The Rehab Clinic

"Addiction is a chronic brain disorder, not merely a behavioural issue, and is driven by various physical and mental factors." - Dr. Nora D. Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

"Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence." - Dr. Michael Miller, past president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

The Lasting Effects: Beyond Just Drugs

When discussing substance abuse, the focus is often solely on the immediate effects, overlooking the long-term consequences. Addiction goes beyond mere drug use; it has extensive implications for an individual's discipline. On numerous occasions, parents and caretakers find it challenging to distinguish between what is perceived as 'indiscipline' and the actual effects of substance abuse. Even years after achieving sobriety, some individuals continue to grapple with issues of discipline and focus, along with a host of other detrimental habits such as being disruptive or disinterested. For the loved ones of those who abuse substances, the emotional toll can be heavy, encompassing feelings of anger, guilt, and shame. They may also be burdened with the financial and emotional repercussions of their family member's addiction.

The 'Indiscipline' Misconception

One of the most striking revelations from my conversations with my son and nephew, is the long-lasting impact of substance abuse. This impact often manifests in what parents and caretakers dismiss as mere 'indiscipline'. Terms like 'disrespectful', 'disorganised', 'disruptive', 'dismissive', 'disinterested', 'disregards', 'distances', and 'dishonest' are frequently used, which oversimplifies an issue that is far more complex. It is important to understand that the effects of substance abuse can endure long after the substance has been eliminated from one's system.

Breaking Taboos and Tackling Urgent Issues: A Disruptive Approach

In partial response to the growing concern of substance abuse, NITE TANZARN IntellectNest has established a Disruptive Think Tank under its virtual platform. This is not your typical academic forum. Instead, it serves as a dynamic platform designed to engage ordinary individuals like you and me in critical discussions about everyday issues. While some of these issues are often considered taboo, others are widely acknowledged societal concerns that require immediate action. The objective is to develop practical, sustainable solutions for these pressing issues. Topics range from substance abuse, sexual and gender-based violence, mental well-being, and sexual reproductive health and rights, to gender inequality, decolonisation, and climate change.

I warmly invite you to join this platform by registering here, as we collectively strive to develop practical, sustainable solutions for these pressing issues.

Concluding Reflections: The Road to Recovery and Discipline

Substance abuse is a health condition, and with the right approach and support, recovery is attainable and discipline can be regained. However, the journey does not conclude with merely recognising the problem. As many of you have insightfully pointed out, rehabilitation – the healing process, is a pivotal aspect of this journey. This critical aspect will be the focus of the third and concluding post in this series. In the upcoming discussion, we aim to share insights from experts in the field, providing a well-rounded perspective on the recovery pathways.

So, dear readers, the time has indeed come to confront this issue directly, equipped with knowledge and compassion. We must be guided by the understanding that addiction is a complex issue that requires a nuanced approach beyond mere simplistic judgments or stigmatisation.

Until our next conversation, let us reflect, act, and transform.

Join the Conversation!

🌸 Share Your Journey: Have you or someone you know recovered from addiction and regained discipline? Your experience could inspire others. 🌱 Promote Positivity: What steps can be taken today to encourage recovery and re-establish discipline? 💡 Change the Lens: Do you believe the long-term effects of substance abuse are often overlooked? How can we address this? 👥 Create a Supportive Network: Share strategies or therapies that have been effective in the journey towards recovery and discipline. Be Considerate: This is a delicate topic. Please maintain a respectful and compassionate dialogue; each voice here is important. 📣 Raise Awareness: If you find this topic crucial, share the post to extend the conversation and be part of societal change. 📚 Educate and Enlighten: Know of any resources that explain the lasting effects of addiction? Share them here. 🔗 Connect for Recovery: Are there organisations offering support for long-term recovery from addiction? Let us know.

About the Author

Nite Tanzarn is a distinguished Independent International Consultant, celebrated for her unwavering commitment to women's rights and gender equality. In this latest blog post, she explores the challenging journey from addiction to recovery and the re-establishment of discipline. Her narrative resonates on both a personal and societal level, serving as a testament to her enduring dedication to social justice in sectors like transport, agriculture, and rural development. As both a thought leader and an advocate for change, Nite continues to campaign for more nuanced and compassionate dialogues surrounding the long-term effects of addiction.

145 views8 comments


Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 06, 2023

Responding to your thoughtful comment, the struggle you describe is indeed a common one faced by many families and communities. Addressing addiction, especially when the individual in question is in denial, can be profoundly challenging. It's crucial to approach this with a blend of compassion, understanding, and professional support. Engagement with professional counselling and intervention services could be a first step to help your loved one recognise the problem. Furthermore, community support groups can provide a supportive environment for both the individual and their family. Regarding the move to legalise certain substances, it's a complex issue with valid arguments on both sides. It's essential to continue the dialogue and education around the potential risks and benefits, striking a balance that ensures public…


Oct 04, 2023

You've certainly made us pay attention; it's so much easier to sweep it under the carpet. Or as I'm tempted to do, just forward a link to the article, to the family addict. But the truth is that they wouldn't even bother to read it.

So how do we deal with an addict who refuses to acknowledge their addiction? After all, if they can't see it, what hope is there that they will want to undergo rehab?

On top of that, we are in direct conflict with the movement to legalise the use of certain drugs, we're exhorted to look at their medicinal benefits etc, etc. Feels very much like a losing battle!

Just one more thing - it's not…


Oct 04, 2023

We all need to hear this.

Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 04, 2023
Replying to

Absolutely, spreading awareness and understanding about addiction and its impacts is crucial for fostering a supportive community. Your engagement is very much appreciated, and I hope this dialogue continues to resonate and inspire positive actions.





Oct 02, 2023

Very insightful and relevant. One wonders whether parallels can be drawn between drug addiction and other disruptive behaviors like gambling! Are there different dopamine pathways in these conditions?

Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 02, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your thoughtful engagement. The comparison between drug addiction and behavioural addictions like gambling is indeed intriguing and relevant. Both types of addiction manifest through a kind of compulsive behaviour despite harmful consequences, often driven by a dopamine reward system in the brain.

Research has shown that similar dopamine pathways are activated during drug use and behaviours like gambling. When engaged in these activities, dopamine is released, creating a pleasurable experience, which the brain then seeks to repeat. Over time, this can lead to a form of addiction even in the absence of substance abuse.

However, while the dopamine system is a common pathway, the manifestation and treatment of substance and behavioural addictions may require different approaches due…


Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 01, 2023

Thank you very much.

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