In addictions the person experiencing it generally can be known in mental health circles to be 'Acopic', poor impulse control etc. The reality is life triggers plenty of stressors potentially impacting on all realms of our psyche - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
A massive stressor in early recovery at the pre-contemplative and contemplative stage is the internal fight to use or not use. The "no" and the "yes" fight that goes on the ones creates huge stress in the brain and mind. At this point does that trigger the brain to start producing cortisol? Ask someone experiencing addiction in the early stages and the "yes" invariably wins. Is this in part because they want to use or is it in part as well due to what such stress produces in the brain?
In a recent blog from The Cabin Chiangmai the following information about cortisol is noted:
"In response to a stressor, the human brain releases hormones, chemicals and neurotransmitters nicknamed chemical “messengers”. First corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) is released, which triggers adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), which stimulates the adrenal glands, and cortisol is produced. When cortisol is present in the blood stream, it tells the brain that CRF and ACTH do not need to be produced any longer (unless it is a particularly serious stressor.)
A study of addicts performed at Rockefeller University involved stopping the production of cortisol in both drug users and non-drug users. Each person was given a pill that stopped the production of cortisol. In those who were not using drugs, the lack of cortisol production caused high levels of ACTH. In those who had recently used heroin, ACTH increased only slightly. When researchers tested a group of people who were in withdrawal from opiates, the ACTH levels doubled that of the non-using group, showing that the brain of a drug addict in recovery is much more sensitive to stress, increasing the addict's susceptibility to relapse during stressful situations – especially within the first couple of years of recovery".
Whilst it's a double edge sword - I have also read the brain does not cope well with too much cortisol in the system. Does it make an addict acopic or due to life experiences they have more of a susceptibility?