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The brain disease of addiction

by Susan Amato

June 30, 2019

Addiction is a very complicated brain disease. Many of us are naturally prone to look at an addict and say, “Wow, he doesn’t care about his family,” and “What a loser,” or “She’s so irresponsible”. These words are hurtful and show that most people do not understand what happens in the brain with addiction.

We are eager to help those with addiction issues because addiction robs so many including young people of their destiny. Alcoholics Anonymous considers addiction an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind. Addiction means a person cannot say no and most of us will never understand what that’s like. Imagine if you were acting like a robot. Imagine if someone was in the driver’s seat of your life telling you what to do. This is what addiction does; it treats the person as if they are a robot versus a person of free will. Some twelve-year-olds take a drink and want more immediately. These people are missing a gene that protects them. Some twelve-year-olds take a drink and think, "this is poison" or "I have had enough." These people have a built-in gene that protects them.

Our brain is made up of sections that we can call colonies. An example of a colony is the colony of mobility. This section moves your limbs automatically, without you specifically thinking about it. If you’re able to walk and move easily, your mobility colony is in sync. Another example is the reasoning colony. This section helps us make good, rational decisions. Whenever a colony is being used, it lights up and can be observed on an MRI.

Recent studies from the National Institute of Health show when a person starts consuming alcohol or drugs a new colony is created. The colony was non-existent before the consumption of the substance. The colony grows over time and the more the substance is used, the more powerful the colony becomes. When the colony lights up the individual experiences craving. When this colony activates and can no longer be told ‘no’ it is called addiction.

This is how people with addiction become living robots. The addiction colony and the reasoning colony are at war. This is why addiction issues must be taken very seriously. Getting clean is not a 30-day war in rehab but a 2-year war to get the addiction colony calmed down and into a non-powerful, non-dominate state.

The 2-year war of addiction consists of both dealing with symptom management, which means to get the physical brain and the obsession of thought to calm down as well as dealing with the root cause. This can be done by creating a strong support system. Going to Alcoholics Anonymous, having a sponsor, attending addiction groups, and having the support of family and friends can help with symptom management. Eating foods that create dopamine, going to the gym, and serving in leadership positions can help the brain create dopamine where it is lacking. Lastly, dealing with the root issues are crucial to helping the addict truly recover. The way to help with this is to receive individual counseling. Here at Dream Believe Institute, we offer extensive outpatient packages with daily counseling and meetings for addicts, as well as, individual counseling sessions. If you or someone you know needs help today call 1-855-SET-FREE.


Not helping is helping!

by Susan Amato

July 8, 2019

 Codependency is an addiction, more hidden to the common man which can be equally as challenging as addiction. Many of us have this helping disease and do not know it. One of the largest challenges is that most spouses and families of addicts do not understand the addict is suffering from a brain disease. The person in a close relationship trying to help the addict is codependent.

Imagine a codependent wife who is dealing with a drug-addicted husband. She is unaware they are similar. While the addict is chasing the substance, the co-addict, the person who is codependent, is chasing the addict. The codependent needs the addict to need them. Being needed becomes her drug. The codependent spends copious hours, months, and even years enabling the addict by helping him, rescuing him and depending on her effectiveness at rescuing the addict for her self-worth.

In the end, the codependent is left chasing someone that can never fulfill her. She is left waiting for the addict to change, sometimes for a lifetime. She thinks the addict changing will make her happy. This never happens. She is typically left feeling resentful, mistreated, and angry. Many codependents wake up years later to see they have wasted a lifetime taking care of an addict, to be left empty with nothing and feeling all alone. Just like the addict, the codependent feels that she is unable to break free from chasing her drug without help. Being aware of the drug-the need to be needed is the first step in getting help.

The codependent has a huge benefit or reward helping an addict. She does not have to look at herself. This person would rather be distracted than to feel the pain inside. This is why she is addicted to helping the addict. While having the pain of low self-esteem, she believes she is only worthy because she is a “doing” person instead of a “being” person. In other words, a codependent person only feels she has worth because of what she can do for others. Helping an addict gives her a false sense of self-worth. Eventually, this person will exhaust herself and feel hopeless.

The handicap of the codependent is severe and creates a delusion. A parallel thought would be, if I help a person with the disease of cancer get better, he will then see me as worthy of being loved when, in fact, no one can cure the disease. No one can save an addict; he must save himself. Only having the gift of desperation and admitting defeat can save him. The codependent must admit defeat also; she cannot save the addict. Once a codependent realizes her life is unmanageable, she can give up and make a change.

In other circumstances, many people work tirelessly to save a loved one who is an addict. While you can tell your loved one you are there for them, they must decide to get help for themselves. Al-Anon (which is a group for those who have an addict they love), codependency groups, and licensed professional counseling are great ways to help a codependent get the help they need.

The cycle of addiction and codependency is much like the cycle of a dog chasing its tail. It is imperative that the addict, the co-addict, and the family of the addict all get the help that they need from the brain disease of addiction and the helping disease of codependency. It is essential each one learn to sit in their own skin, to realize they are an individual person, with a specific design, for a greater purpose. If you are an addict, take responsibility and do what you need to do and get help for yourself. If you are codependent, stop taking care of the responsibility of others and take care of yourself. Tell your addict loved one that you cannot help him. Tell the addict to go get help. Stop helping and pray to the only one who can save him for only God can save an addict. If you need help with addiction or codependency call 1-855- SET-FREE!


Setting yourself free!

by Rick Amato

July 18, 2019

 The deadliest emotion to anyone suffering from addiction is resentment. To say that since my daughter’s tragic death I have struggled with it, just doesn’t quite capture the intensity of my own personal battle. The trouble is that while resentment, revenge and recompense are perfectly normal and natural instincts ; holding all of them in your soul is like taking poison and hoping the offending party dies!

In the prayer Jesus taught us to pray we say, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” In reality this simple teaching is the resolution of this human conundrum and the key to spiritual evolution and growth.

When we forgive those who have harmed us or those we love, we are in essence setting ourselves free. It takes at least two people to have a prison. The secret I have found is letting go of the age-old lie “just forgive and forget.” That is impossible. Everything in this dimension from the single celled flat worm to the legendary working of Albert Einstein’s brain to the most powerful computer on earth- works by memory. The grace and power, the key to successful forgiveness, is simple : attach new meaning to the trauma that happened to you.

Simple does NOT mean easy ! Every day my wife Susan and I provide mental health therapy and clinical clergy counseling to people with horrific trauma. To watch them find the new meaning in their trauma and rise above it to help others with the same trauma is priceless. She and I are here to provide counseling for you and your loved ones struggling with addiction often rooted in trauma and resentment. For help call 1-855-SET-FREE.


Beautiful Butterfly!

by Susan Amato

August 12, 2019

Just like the caterpillar changed form when he stopped eating, hung upside down, spun in a cocoon, and waited until he emerged as a butterfly, we must stop and undergo the process of becoming our new self. What happens during the waiting time in a cocoon is fascinating. The old body is broken down and then it turns into something new. The process a caterpillar must undertake, to appear as a beautiful butterfly, is the same one we need to take. We must get rid of the way we were conditioned and become a new person-a genuine person.

If a butterfly comes out of the cocoon too early, it is able to pollinate the flowers one time, and then it loses strength and dies. It does not live as the beautiful butterfly was meant to live. It must come to complete transformation to have the strength to stay alive and fulfill its purpose.

To create a perfect insect, a moth has to force its way through the neck of a cocoon with hours and hours of intense struggle. The pressure is what gives life to his wings. If he does not undergo the pressure and comes out too early, his wings will not be developed, and he will die.

Just like these insects, we must go through the transformation process to see our dreams come true. We must undergo pressure as well. It is okay to have gratitude for your hardships. If we don’t undergo pressure, we will not be strong enough for what is to come.

Having your dreams come true does not come from a rainbow with a leprechaun at the end of it waiting to hand you a pot of gold, just as much as babies do not come hand delivered by storks. Having your dreams come true requires a lot of work. The transformation process can be very stressful.

Sometimes we try to lessen that pressure for others or ourselves. The times when we attempt to lessen the pressure for others, we enable them to be weak. When we enable people, it is like cutting the moth out of the cocoon too early and setting him up to die as he will have no strength of his own to fly. This is why it is important for us to allow others to go through their transformation process, as it is equally as important, we go through ours.

Every individual person must go through their own transformation process. Transformation will not come by another person changing; transformation comes when you change. Your inventor made a showpiece when he made you, certainly a piece worth revealing. If you are in need of transformation to reveal your true self, get help by calling 1-855-SET-FREE!