NEUROSCIENCE OF ADDICTION RECOVERY

Addiction is us.  At least it seems so.  From celebrities to our neighbors to our own family, no one seems untouched by this phenomenon.  But is "every" obsession and addiction?  Is social networking among our youth an addiction?

When it comes to drug addiction recovery, the approach needs to look to neuroscience for help in healing because it offers insight into  both the brain and the  mind

 Once again the philosophical issue arises of how the two concepts differ or are the same. The two are so interconnected and continuously feedback on each other that it may be inappropriate to separate them.   But when it comes to addiction recovery I believe that there are two distinct concepts that can be approached in complementary methods.

Mindbasedtherapies would include psychotherapy.  It would explore the psychological/emotional disturbances which were the fertile field upon which the choice to take drugs took root.  Then there is the cognitivebehavioral approach which is less concerned about the back story and more about practical methods of thinking about negative and damaging thoughts/feelings.  This practical approach is the basis of the SMART techniques and other non12step methods.

There is much evidence, however, to support the need for brainbased therapy.  Addicts often suffer from disease states such as manic-depression, learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD which underlie their need to "self-medicate" with drugs in the first place.  Frontal lobe abnormalities often lead to impairment in "impulse-control" which is an associated factor.  And drug therapy itself alters brain function (evidenced from abnormal EEG/ MRI/ SPECT scans) so that re-wiring and healing the brain itself  is a necessary part of therapy.

And of course therapeutic drug therapy  to deal with the underlying mind/brain disorders is available as well. Some practitioners emphasize the this approach but there is evidence that combined mind/brain therapy can eliminate or reduce the dosing of drug treatment.

This neuroscience (mind/brain) approach does not disregard to deny the value of 12Step recovery particularly in the initial phases of recovery.  But it offers something beyond that.  12Step sees addiction as a permanent disease state which will require an ongoing community and spiritual guidance to maintain sobriety. 

 The neuroscience approach would build on the 12Step by offering the next step–a hope for transformation and true healing.  It places more of this responsibility on the individual.  Its message is that unless that individual seeks their own healing and are willing to work towards it true recovery will be in doubt. It does not deny the value of spirituality either (unlike some non12step therapies) but emphasizes the spiritual strength of the individual in recovery and the need to recognize and empower themselves through that awareness.

Unless the knowledge and methods of neuroscience are followed, however, true healing, true recovery is unlikely.

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