Working to Heal, Anthony, a Brief Case Study

Working to Heal, Anthony, a Brief Case Study



Self esteem, sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging are critical to a persons ability to be happy and thrive. Having a job and working that job to the best of your ability builds pride confidence and self worth. Work is anything that brings value to you or another and can be a regular job, volunteer work or caring for and raising a family. The trick is not just to show up and bear it but to do it with your best effort in a way that makes yourself proud. This is one great way to have something good and stable to help you have purpose to build a life off of.

One of the main goals in Opioid Addiction recovery is getting back to and maintaining personal independence. Personal independence means, being able to care for yourself and those dependent upon you. The best way for a person to rebuild their life is to focus on consciously adding good and positive thoughts, actions, habits and goals to their life and eliminate as quickly as possible, the bad, destructive habits that can make life difficult and painful.

Developing positive habits and actions helps to heal and rebuild a part of the brain called the Pre-Frontal Cortex that was damaged by Opioids. This part of the brain allows for higher level thinking and decision making such as predictive and consequential thinking. The best way to exercise and rebuild this part of the brain is to work and to work out.

Work of any kind, when taken seriously, helps the brain rebuild because in order to function at work one must realize, predict and plan what needs to be done and then do it with the responsibility for its outcome. This stimulates the area of the brain damaged by the opioids and will help it to recover. Working also helps to give life structure and most people do well and are comforted by routine and structure.

Having income also helps to relieve stress by building self reliance and self esteem.


Working also helps of course by lowering financial stress levels but very much by building social skills, friendships, healthy relationships as well as self esteem. In addition staying interested and busy in life, keeps us out of trouble to some extent because if we value our independence we wont want to blow our job and we will try to avoid those things that can drag us back down like boredom, unhealthy relationships or money stress.

Exercise is similar but helps the brain in a slightly different way. Exercise not only changes brain entrenchment pathways but also helps change the brains chemistry, specifically the dopamine and serotonin pathways which are integral in the Limbic system responsible for the desire and reward areas that are overactive in addiction. Complicated activities such as outdoor cycling or basketball are the most regenerative rather than routine exercises like spinning or running alone. These socially or unpredictable activities are more stimulating for the brain and more effective. More on exercise in another article.

Anthony came to us almost 5 years ago. He was taking many Norco each day after starting on opioid pain pills after a medical procedure. He had legitimate pain but also was coping with personal family pain of several kinds. The numbing, safe feeling effect of the opioids, lured him to take more than was therapeutic and he became dependent or addicted to Opioids.

Anthony is a perfect example of healing through hard work. He came to us for treatment of dependence to Opioid pain medication. There were many serious stressors which helped him to overuse and become dependent. However he had always kept the value of responsibility to his disabled sister in his daily routine. He also recognized and fought against the downward spiral of addiction before it got too bad. We thought the world of Anthony and after a couple of years clean and feeling that he would not be triggered by our work environment, we offered him a position in our company, Brightside clinic. He learned quickly, was diligent and in less than a year he had been offered an even better job with a similar company. His success, is our success, and illustrates how working and taking responsibility can help get you out of the trap of addiction. Staying busy, working toward something important to you and the desire or need for autonomy was in his opinion, key. Working has helped him build stability for his family and self value and self esteem. Congratulations Anthony, great job.

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