Everyone experiences moods. These range from happiness to sadness and also include moods like anger, depression and fear.
Normally, something triggers an emotional response which causes an increase in our mood level, but after a while, we return to our previous level of “serenity“.
Throughout the normal course of the day we are constantly experiencing various moods but very rarely do these moods get uncontrollable because the brain intervenes before this can happen!
Endorphins play a role in controlling the brains emotional responses by acting as a brake-fluid to excessive mood swings. For example; If someone with normal endorphin levels gets angered by something or someone, their emotional thermometer rises over a period of time. As our emotional temperature rises, the brain responds by releasing brake-fluid to restrict the anger from climbing any further. The endorphins return us to a serene mood again. The same reactions take place for all other emotions like joy, fear, depression etc.Thus the action of the endorphins keeps us balanced and normal.
Addiction Mood Response
When the brain is flooded with alcohol or drugs, they block the endorphins from reaching their neuro-receptors. Soon the brain realizes that there are endorphins just “floating around” with nowhere to go and so it shuts down endorphin production.
Suddenly there are no endorphins available to put the brakes on a person’s moods and their mood goes through the roof! This response applies to all moods, making the person extremely volatile and emotional. What follows are extreme mood swings such as rage, paranoia and even suicidal depression. Addicts become abusive, paranoid and unstable. Friends and family start avoiding them and isolation occurs.
Where are all the Endorphins?
Because the brains natural morphine(endorphins) is more powerful than real morphine, it is also used to stabilize the body in the case of extreme trauma (e.g. as a result of an accident). This morphine is vital to prevent the brain from dying of shock.
As a result of the shortage of endorphins due to drug and alcohol damage, the body keeps every drop of the little endorphins it has, in reserve, in case it is needed to save your life!
The result is that the brain won’t release any brake fluid to the mad/glad/sad response system which results in extreme mood swings. During early recovery, this emotional volatility often leads them to seek comfort by using alcohol or drugs again. However, there are “coping skills” that can be called upon to ease the situation. These are:
talking with your sponsor
going to a meeting and venting there
reducing sugar intake
reducing refined carbo-hydrate (white flour) intake