Neuroscience of Addiction and Recovery
The neuroscience of addiction and recovery is replacing outdated psychiatric analysis. Neuroscience is quite new and uses the biology of the central nervous system and neurology to explain how we think and behave. Over the last twenty years research has advanced our understanding of addiction and has helped us change attitudes and treatment policies.
"A human cannot simply unlearn an addiction, entrenched behavior and thinking is scared on the brain"
Hijacking of the brain: A human cannot simply unlearn an addiction, entrenched behavior and thinking is scared on the brain, however it has also been made clear that treating Addiction with drugs is a short-term solution and keeps the addiction pathways pulsating. Drugs pump-up the reward centre in the brain stopping the reward centre returning to homeostasis.
Drugs of addiction include: alcohol, all the usual suspects, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, also medical opiates, stimulants, and many new recreational drugs.
Confusing messages from pharmaceutical companies and doctors mis-diagnosing personality disorders and prescribing a lot of medication hampering treatment. Of course addiction has all the traits of a disordered personality and so often fits the criteria of mental health conditions.
Disease definition: “A disorder of structure or function especially one that produces symptoms. A particular quality, habit, or disposition regarded as adversely affecting a person”
The disease concept: Addition is now widely accepted as a Chronic Brain disease of the reward system, learning ability and memory banks – in addition to an inability to stop something that is destructive. Similar too obesity, also considered a disease – some may say self-imposed however a more compassionate view is a genetically inherited condition and an attempt to self-medicate a deficiency. The deficiency could be as a result of trauma in childhood or even substance abuse itself. Think of the substance as a performance enhancer that after a honeymoon period eventually poisons the user and leads to illness and possible death.
The cycle of addiction: The psychological and physically dependency renders the addict powerless to stop.
Reinforcing Effects of using: Long-term drug and alcohol use strengthens the memories lodged in your brain.
The craving is “a neurological impulse” triggering severe anxiety and obsessional thinking leading to compulsion to use.
Kicking the habit - Neuroscience of Addiction and Recovery
Treatment: Psychological intervention is the therapy needed to change and install a new mindset and behaviors. CBT is the most useful to dispute errors of thinking.
Exposure therapy is very helpful to safely practice living without drink and drugs, and preparing new responses to situations.
12 step recovery is highly successful however it is not inclusive, this is what I mean….
- If you have trouble identifying yourself as an addict or alcoholic then you will feel alone.
- If you are not willing to be abstinent then you will not fit in.
- If you don’t like being part of a group then you will feel uncomfortable.
- If you don’t have the tolerance to listen to your peers talk about their issues, recovery or their day then you will find meetings impossible.
- If you cant hear the word God, Higher Power or even Spirituality without cringing then you will hate it.
- If you are not motivated to attend meetings regularly then its not for you.
- If you don’t want to do service to help other addicts then it may not be for you either.
- If you don’t take on suggestions on how to manage your recovery and life then it will be difficult.
- If you don’t trust other people or addicts enough to share you inner most truths then its not for you.
Those people who do work through these superficial challenges know of the benefits that far outweigh a few initial differances, and understand the sound reasons for all the above. Of course the fellowship and all the above issues are not what they seem, it’s not religious however people in meetings do use the term God so many newcomers jump conclusions.
"Excuses to stay in active addiction until an addict either dies or gets so desperate they submit"
Many of the reasons mentioned above are excuses to stay in active addiction until an addict either dies or gets so desperate they submit. In my experience every client I have treated who rejected the AA or NA fellowships eventually surrender to it if they live, unfortunately some have died before they get the chance.
Neuroscience of Addiction and Recovery by Simon Mott