How Drug Addiction Affects Emotional Intelligence
It has become common knowledge that compulsive drug seeking and consumption changes the brain’s structure and functioning. Normally, there are abnormal changes to the working memory, which negatively impacts working memory and results in poor work/academic performance and schizophrenia-related disorders.
But did you know that drug addiction also has a direct impact on your emotional intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) is your ability to control and assess the emotions of yourself and others. Apart from these two abilities, emotional intelligence gives you the willingness to make wise decisions and overcome emotional challenges.
With this center of the brain, you can diagnose and resolve issues in an organized manner rather than relying on “pat” answers and solutions. The brain under normal circumstances creates new stem cells that connect to other cells to form neural circuitry (a process known as neurogenesis). This adds power to the understanding of emotions and intelligence, points out some research1.
That said, there are concerns about emotional intelligence of individuals who’re addicted to drugs. According to a study2, drug addicts have low EI indicators, which impacts their ability to use and perceive emotions, as well as contemplate, comprehend and experience events with negative results leading to deviant behavior.
According to some studies 3, 1 in 10 Americans aged 12 years or older are living with a drug problem, which includes addiction. While some of them can use alcohol safely and even experiment with prescription drugs recreationally, others cannot. Once addiction has set in, the individual builds tolerance to the choice of drugs, and requires higher doses in order to satisfy cravings.
Higher doses of drugs and alcohol inhibits the individual’s EI center in the brain to regulate their emotional state and frequently consume substances as a way to make up for the emotional shortage.
Addiction doesn’t care how emotionally intelligent you are or to what extent you want to understand and control your emotions. The wits may serve you well in other walks of life, but you simply can’t decode your emotions during an alcohol or drug problem. You’re going to have cognitive deficits during the phase of addiction, and higher levels of trait aggression may land you in trouble when it comes to personal and professional life.
Regaining emotional intelligence with natural recovery
The first step towards recovery is learning about addiction and going through rehab to understand the biological roots of drug abuse. Though inpatient programs are labeled as the “gold standard” due to natural recovery methods (detox, medicine-free support groups, etc.), intensive outpatient drug recovery care can help addicts to regain their emotional intelligence by helping them regain cognitive abilities.
Outpatient programs also feature experts who help patients develop a routine and diet plan that discourage behaviors that lead to drug abuse. You’d be surprised to know that most individuals with a drug abuse problem didn’t plan to get addicted, but intended to relieve suffering, to quell anger, and to have fun. Addiction was the result of their attempt to achieve these meaningful things.
Once the individual recognizes the problem of addiction, they can learn to see signs of addictive behavior, which is easy in focus groups. Some treatment centers will help individuals learn relaxation techniques, others will make groups that spend time in nature; these activities help patients appreciate the transitory nature of emotions, and regain their intelligence.