Feeling out of control in your emotions can feel like a total take over. You feel completely embodied by whatever issue is at hand. For example, if you are angry, you feel the anger in every part of your body. You might clench your fists, bounce your leg up and down, and be itching to either scream or throw something. What about when fear takes over? You can feel it from your head to your toes. You lose your ability to think clearly. You obsess over what you’re afraid of. Adrenaline sends your heart rate soaring, causing you to maybe sweat. Likely, your pupils are dilated, your mouth might be salivating, and you’re on edge.

What actually happens during an emotional take over is called an “amygdala hijack” according to The Brain And Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. Goldman wrote about the importance of emotional control for Mindful. In the article, he explains that “During a hijack, we can’t learn, and we rely on overlearned habits.” Those over-learned habits, he explains, are the “ways we’ve behaved time and time again.” Addicts and alcoholics are familiar with the process all too closely. Trauma, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, and any other kind of trigger can set off a string of uncontrollable emotions. Responding to what is perceived as a threat is the job of the amygdala. For the addict or alcoholic, that means that emotions are a threat, even though it is easy to become consumed by them.

“The hijack captures our attention,” Goleman explains, “beaming it on the threat at hand…you can only think about what’s troubling you.” Addicts and alcoholics tend to be obsessive. Obsessive thinking about drugs and alcohol is a leading sign an unhealthy relationship with, or dependency on, drugs and alcohol is developing.  

The reason so much emotional processing and therapy is involved in treatment is because those in recovery have to learn to control their emotions. Additionally, the brain has to understand that emotions are not threatening. As an addict or alcoholic in recovery this translates to being able to feel feelings without being triggered to use substances. When an addict or alcoholic is triggered emotionally and does not have the ability to control it, they resort to those “overlearned” habits. More accurately, according to the article, they are in combat with their brains, specifically their amygdala, and turn to substances to cope.

Learning to live again through leadership, clinical therapy, personal development, and holistic healing is the focus at Sound Recovery Solution. We strive to help each of our clients transform into leaders of their own lives and the recovery community which builds around them. For information on our partial care programs, call us today at (561) 666-7427.

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