Addiction can make you pretty narrow-minded. No matter your political beliefs, spiritual beliefs, or your level of education, there is no changing the way that addiction changes your brain chemistry. Addicts and alcoholics struggling through active addiction are focused heavily on getting substances, using substances, and getting more substances after the substances they just used wear off. This relentless cycle of addiction is inherently narrow-minded. There is an entire world outside the cycle of finding ways to get high, getting high, and starting over. It is the hyperfocus on drugs and alcohol which makes addiction what it is. Behind the scenes, there are essential brain mechanisms which have been altered by the constant influence of the mind altering substances. In the midbrain, for example, the brain sorts and emphasizes its necessary methods of survival. Human needs like eating, sleeping, and reproducing operate from this area of the brain. Overtime, as the memory associations of, as well as the chemical dependency on, drugs and alcohol grows, these survival methods get a new teammate. Finding drugs, using drugs, and being high on drugs- addiction- becomes a necessary means of survival for the brain. As a result, the brain becomes narrow-minded.
Open-mindedness is an important theme in recovery. When we talk about the how of recovery, as in how we stay sober, we include open-mindedness along with honesty and willingness. Having an open-mind is not just a spiritual principle for getting more out of life. It’s a practice in neuroscience, working to fight against systems in your brain which have gone awry due to addiction. Open-mindedness is the way to trick your brain into believing that anything might be possible, like staying sober one day at a time for many days in a row. Being open-minded means you’re changing your mindset from being stuck to growing. You can be more curious with an open-mind, which leads to new discoveries as well as an ongoing evolution of who you are as an individual. Open-mindedness is an exploration of what is real and what is false in the mind, differentiating between what you think you know is true, what you know you know is true, and you aren’t sure is true at all.
We have to be open-minded to the idea of recovery. The idea of being able to live successfully and happily with drugs and alcohol might seem to be an impossibility for many people. Open-mindedness is what moves us from shame based thinking that we don’t deserve it and couldn’t get it to possibility based thinking that maybe we can and maybe we will.
You can recover. You will find peace. The promises of recovery are real. Lakehouse Recovery Center offers residential detox, inpatient, and aftercare programs to carry you through your first year of sobriety in a safe, clinical, fun environment. For information on our programs or to schedule a tour, call us today at: 877.762.3707