Solutions for Substance Abuse in Kosciusko County and Northern Indiana

A BRIDGE TO HOPE

OUR MISSION

A Bridge to Hope will lead and unite community efforts that offer solutions to those affected by substance use disorder.

Diagnosing an Addiction

Identifying addiction is like diagnosing any other illness. The patient is examined for symptoms meeting specific, scientific criteria defining the illness in question. One of the best tools for spotting addiction is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. The criteria outlined in the DSM are generally accepted and used by professionals to help determine the presence and severity of a substance use disorder. They include:

The substance is used in larger amounts or over a longer time than the person originally intended.

Wanting to cut back on use but being unable to do so.

A considerable amount of time is spent trying to acquire a substance.

The user experiences an intense desire or urge to use their drug.

Substance use takes priority over work, school or home obligations.

Interpersonal relationships are consistently strained from drug use.

User stops engaging in important social or recreational activities in favor of drug use.

We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in. Ernest Hemmingway

The Power of Substance Use Disorder

Addiction affects more than just the addicted person. Family and loved ones of addicts are often subjected to physical and emotional pain. Alcohol and drug abuse might directly impact your life and your family, but that does not mean you are to blame. Take a moment to listen to this story of hope from a former addict.

We can help.  You never have to feel this way again.

You Are Not Alone

Depression and Anxiety are common

Depression and anxiety, along with several other mental health related matters are often pivotal in leading to a person engaging with substance abuse.

Addiction harms relationships

What might have seemed to be otherwise a very normal relationship can turn ugly when addiction enters the scene.  Rest assured that through the process of recovery, relationships can be restored.

Help is available and you can start today

The number one thing to keep at the forefront of your mind right now is that there is help.  You are not alone.  There are a tremendous amount of resources available, both free and paid.  A Bridge To Hope helps coordinate those resources for you.

HOW ADDICTION AFFECTS THE BRAIN

Changes in the Brain
Once someone develops an addiction, his or her brain is essentially rewired to use drugs despite the consequences. While physical symptoms of an addiction will go away, situations or emotions related to past substance abuse can trigger cravings years down the road. This doesn’t mean recovery isn’t possible. But people in recovery must realize treatment is an ongoing process. Addiction treatment is developing every day and has rapidly improved over the years. If you or someone you care about is struggling to overcome an addiction, get help now.
How Addictions Develop
The human brain is a complex organ controlling every voluntary and involuntary action we make. The brain controls basic motor skills, heart and breathing rates, emotions, behavior and decision-making. There is a part of the brain responsible for addiction. The name for this part of the brain is the limbic system. This system, also known as the “brain reward system,” is responsible for producing feelings of pleasure. When a person takes an addictive substance, the limbic system releases chemicals that make the user feel good. This encourages habitual substance abuse. The overwhelming, involuntary need to use a substance — regardless of the harm it may cause — is due to actual changes that have occurred in the brain reward system. Feeding the addiction becomes priority number one.
Activating the Brain Reward System
The abuse of addictive substances activates of the brain reward system. Frequently activating this system with drugs can lead to addiction. The brain reward system is naturally activated when we take part in actions that are good for us. It is part of our natural ability to adapt and survive. Whenever something activates this system, the brain assumes something necessary to survival is happening. The brain then rewards that behavior by creating feelings of pleasure. Drinking water when we are thirsty, for example, activates the reward system, so we repeat this behavior. Addictive substances hijack this system, causing feelings of pleasure for actions that are actually harmful. Unfortunately, addictive substances have a far stronger effect on the brain reward system.
The Biochemistry of Addiction
Dopamine plays an important role in the reward system. Dopamine is a natural chemical in the brain that sends signals to the limbic system. When introduced into the limbic system, drugs either mimic dopamine or cause an overproduction of it in the brain. The reason normal actions that activate the brain reward system (food, drinking, sex, music, etc.) don’t reprogram the brain for addiction is because they produce normal levels of dopamine. Addictive substances can release up to 10 times more dopamine than natural reward behaviors. Substance use floods neuroreceptors with dopamine. This causes the “high” associated with using drugs. After continued drug abuse, the human brain is unable to naturally produce normal levels of dopamine. In essence, drugs take the reward system hostage. The result is craving the drugs that will restore dopamine levels to normal. A person in this scenario is no longer capable of feeling good without the drug.

We work with several Community Partners in the area