Surprising Ways to Help a Loved One During Recovery from Cocaine Addiction
Addiction develops from the compulsion to use a substance even when you are aware that it is having a negative impact on your life and you want to stop. That compulsion is developed through brain chemistry. The human brain is designed to seek out pleasure and in most instances that is good; it causes people to eat and to mate, which keep the species going.
However, cocaine complicates the brain’s reward system. Users feel pleasure from the cocaine and a chemical called dopamine is released; it is a pleasure chemical. Once the brain associates pleasure with cocaine, the brain develops a desire for more. This is the reward cycle.
But, a person who seeks out treatment is trying to break that cycle and their efforts need support. You are doing all that you know how to do, but there are a few things you can help with that will aid your recovering loved one to access some of the chemical euphoria that they remember from drug use in a safe, natural way.
If it is endorphins you are looking to trigger, look no further than the smells of vanilla and lavender, both of which are often ingredients in calming products. There are also studies that link spicy foods and dark chocolate to endorphin release. As a tiny surprise give your loved one a scented candle, a diffuser, or some incense. Even better, buy some spicy dark chocolate.
Hot baths are an obvious way to relax and they work just as well during recovery as they do during cocaine detox. They soothe the nervous system, release muscle tension, and improve the quality of sleep. Plus, they are quick, easy, and inexpensive. Epsom salt baths are the most widely recommended because the pure mineral compound consisting of sulfate and magnesium are easily absorbed through skin, making the baths a great way to flush toxins and improve nutrient absorption.
Recovery is a stressful time and stress saps the body’s magnesium and increases the level of adrenaline. Magnesium from the Epsom salt is absorbed to stabilize these levels. Magnesium is important because it helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical generally associated with feeling significant or important. Diminished serotonin leads to loneliness and depression.
But, if you want to make a gift of bath products, any high quality product that enhances bath time will do; it doesn’t have to just be Epsom salt. Why high quality? Poor quality bath products are filled with dyes, fragrances, harsh soaps, and allergens. Because they will be next to bare skin for an extended period of time, now is the time to make sure your gift will enhance the bath rather than cause itching and raw, tender skin.
Consider bath gifts to be an excellent way to use the concept of aromatherapy. Look for lightly scented bubble bath, oil, salts, and soap in vanilla and lavender aromas.
Most people are familiar with the term “runner’s high” and the idea that exercise releases endorphins, which can improve happiness and well-being. Interestingly, the name “endorphin” is a combination of the words “endogenous” and “morphine.” Essentially, endorphins are a morphine-like substances that get made in the body. Like morphine, they help reduce pain and increase positive feelings.
Endorphins, released from the pituitary gland during strenuous exercise, orgasm, pain, and emotional stress, trigger the brain’s reward center. The amount released will vary from person to person. During recovery it is important that addicts continue developing sober ways to feel pleasure.
Regular exercise can:
- Relieve and reduce stress
- Positively alter brain chemistry
- Provide the clarity of meditation
- Improve outlook
- Increase self-esteem
- Reduce depression
- Reinforce the goal of continued sobriety
- Improve sleep
To support your loved one in getting plenty of exercise plan times to get active together, join a gym together, sponsor their gym membership, give the gift of exercise videos, invite them on long walks or runs. There are plenty of easy, cheap ways to join the recovering addict in your life for some active time together.
It is important to remember that endorphin rush can become something that people crave and this can lead to “exercise addiction.” Unfortunately, over exertion does not increase endorphin output, so people who attempt to push themselves for increased endorphin release will be disappointed. Most people, however, are able to exercise normally and enjoy endorphins.
Cocaine is a hard addiction to beat and every little bit of support helps. Offer what you can and if you need more ideas, call cocaine.org at 800-736-5356(Who Answers?). Someone is waiting to speak to you and give you all the help you need.